Fasting and Living a Fasted Life 1
In our article this week we are going to be sharing about fasting and living a fasted life.
Fasting is the spiritual exercise of abstaining from eating solid food and other carnal activities, such as talking, sex, sleeping and physical labour, as much as possible, to give more time to fellowship with God in prayer and the Word.
In the New Testament, we are commanded by the Lord Jesus to fast, though we are not under law, as to when to fast, how long to fast and how often to fast.
Matthew 6:16-18(KJV): Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
Notice the Lord said ‘when you fast’ not ‘if you fast’, meaning that He expects us to fast regularly just like He expects us to pray and give regularly (see Mt. 6.1-15).
In the Old Testament they were expected to fast by law on certain days: like the Day of Atonement in the 7th. Month (Leviticus. 23.27-32).
In Isaiah 58 we are told prophetically that we should make the weekly Sabbath a time of fasting and prayer.
Isaiah 58:6, 13(KJV): Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
Of course, in the New Testament we are not bound by law to fast on the Sabbath: which is Saturday (Romans. 14.5, 6).
However, we should make weekly fasting a habit (not a law) for our spiritual development. We are free to choose which ever day is convenient for us, though it is good to have a particular day we use regularly so as to develop the habit.
So it is expedient to fast as a regular habit once a week, though we are not bound by law to do so. Remember “All things are lawful but not all things are expedient” (1 Corintians. 6.12).
We fast by primarily abstaining from solid food, though in cases of certain medical conditions you can take light foods.
There are also partial fasts in which we “eat no pleasant bread (Daniel. 10.3)” like Daniel. We eat only very light foods.
Also we take water during a fast to cleanse our bodies from the toxic substances released, as the body purges itself during the fast. We can also, as led by the Spirit, take fluids like fruit juices, to have physical strength during the fast to pray and study.
Most fasts in the Bible, allow you to take water, however occasionally in exceptionally supernatural cases, like Moses during his 40 day fast, God will lead you not to take water.
We strongly advise against fasting without water for more than 3 days (Esther 4.16).
What makes a fast effective is having the right attitude of honest, humility and a desire to seek God for spiritual growth and excellence and then setting aside time during the fast to have a concentrated time of prayer and Bible reading, study and meditation.
It is not how much you suffer physically during the fast that impresses God.
In fact, what makes your praying and fellowship with God in the Word during fasting more effective than when you are not fasting, is that power which would have been used for digestion of food in your stomach is now conserved to make you more spiritually powerful and alert.
Regular fasting (Paul fasted often (2 Corintians. 11.27) is an essential, indispensable, tool for optimal spiritual development: to grow into the perfection and fullness of Christ in this 3rd day and we, like the Lord Jesus, command you to develop the regular habit of fasting.
In our article next week we will look at the habit of living a fasted life.