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?
So, let's talk about fasting. I am not sure why, but fasting is a subject that seems to be placed on the back burner in the church and within Christian circles. Out of my 31 years of living and attending church services, I can only recall 2 times where the church mentioned fasting. And even then, the church did not explain why fasting was important.
Granted, they may have assumed the congregation knew the importance based off Bible knowledge. But honestly, I did not know. Yes, I didn't know because I wasn't reading my Bible the way I should have been. I take full responsibility in my ignorance. But I only knew of Jesus's 40 day fast in the wilderness. And since Jesus's fast was so drastic, I figured fasting wasn't for me. I thought prayer and worship alone would suffice.
But as I studied the Word of God for myself, I discovered that fasting isn't something that I can decide if it's good for me or not. God made that decision for me. It is very clearly stated in Mark 2. When Jesus was with the disciples, they did not fast. So, a few people thought that was odd and asked Jesus why they did not fast. Here's Jesus's response.
But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.
Mark 2:20, KJV
Christ stated once He goes away, then we should fast. Obviously, Christ now sits on the right hand side of God and does not walk the earth any more. Thus, we should fast. It doesn't really sound like Christ made it an option. It sounded like it was necessary because we would need something to draw closer to Him while He is gone. And that's exactly what fasting does. It draws us closer to Him than any prayer or worship could ever do by itself.
Furthermore, the fact that the people thought it was odd that followers of Christ did not fast goes to show that fasting in those days was normal. It was weird not to fast. Therefore, if we call ourselves followers of Christ today and we don't fast, we are behaving oddly.
However, if you are a Christian who has not fasted please don't feel bad. I want to give you just two quick examples of people who fasted in the Bible and the chains that broke for them. These are things I wished someone would have explained to me about fasting. So before you start to feel like a weirdo for being a Christian who hasn't fasted, remember God grants us grace, and if it's in His will, you will have time to fast in the future. So let's dig in.
1. Daniel 's Fast
I understand the idea of fasting may be intimidating. Going without food for an entire day, let alone a few days, can be overwhelming. However, you can opt to do a fast similar to Daniel's fast. In Daniel 1, we see that Daniel fasted for 10 days by not eating meat or drinking wine.
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.... Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
(Daniel 1:8 and 12)
So basically, Daniel ate fruits and vegetables only for 10 days. At the end of the 10 days, the Bible states Daniel's face appeared fairer and healthier in appearance. (By the way, I have tried this fast and my face has never been as clear as it was when I was on this fast!)
But the benefits of the fast did not stop with Daniel's face. Verse 17 states God gave him the ability to interpret dreams and visions. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, also joined Daniel in this fast and they received clearer countenances too, along with knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom.
In Daniel 10, Daniel did another fast were he abstained from bread, meat, and wine for 21 days. After this fast, Daniel received a vision in regards to the coming Messiah. It was a true prophetic vision as he was able to see hundreds of years ahead of his time about Jesus. Now, of course you shouldn't expect to receive this sort of revolutionary vision after fasting. But Daniel's vision does illustrate the power of fasting.
So, if you are nervous about abstaining from food entirely, try abstaining from certain foods. Also, if you're still not sure about it, try abstaining from other things like sweets or social media. I completed the 40 Day Surrender Fast written by Dr. Celeste Owens and it truly changed my life. The surrender fast is when you surrender something, not necessarily food, for God.
Also, please make sure when you are fasting that you are not forgetting to pray and read your Bible. There's no point in fasting if you aren't staying connected to God. Buy a devotional if needed to assist you. But whatever you do, stay in that Word and stay in prayer!
Esther's fast can be found in Esther 4. Esther was promoted to Queen Esther after King Ahasuerus demoted Queen Vashti. However, the king did not know that Esther was a Jew. King Ahasuerus passed an order to execute all Jews because of their supposed disobedience to the king's orders.
The order passed because of Haman's lies and bitterness. He was a hateful, evil man with a high position in the king's court. He was angry at a Jew named Mordecai for not bowing down to him. Therefore, Haman put a bug in King Ahasuerus's ear about the "disobedient " Jews and the king granted the execution order. However, Haman was also unaware that Mordecai was family to Esther.
When Esther became aware of the execution order, she along with all the Jews fasted for 3 days - no food and no water. Granted this is what I consider an extreme fast. But desperate times calls for desperate measures.
In the end, the execution order was lifted, Haman was executed, and Mordecai was promoted. Fasting completely changed the entire trajectory of the Jews' lives. Fasting brought about deliverance and promotion. So, if you have some strongholds on you or your family that needs breaking, try fasting... you never know it may also result in some sort of promotion.
No, scratch that. I know it will result in some sort of promotion. I know this because of what is said in James 4:10 as well as in the scripture listed below.
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time
(1 Peter 5:6, KJV)
Fasting illustrates our humble submission to God. It's how we demonstrate our allegiance to Him. It's showing God that we are willing to be uncomfortable for awhile just to be a little closer to Him. Thus, fasting is an act of humility towards God. And when He sees that humility, He will exalt us. Exaltation from God is absolutely a promotion.
So, a few things to remember about fasting:
It draws us closer to God; thus, it provides us with clarity.
It brings about deliverance from strongholds.
It is an act of humility, which will lead to exaltation in God's timing.
And those are just the spiritual aspects! Again, fasting can bring about physical transformation as well. Upon researching, I discovered that fasting for 3-5 days will completely regenerate your cells. So, in essence this level of fasting works from the inside out... literally!
There are various ways to fast and there are various fasting time frames. In 2 Samuel 1, the Israelites fasted only up until the evening. That's only skipping lunch and breakfast. But their fast resulted in them gaining victory in a battle. I've also completed this fast and God gave me an awesome personal revelation by noon.
I don't want to hold you long, so I'll wrap this up. But please remember that Christ recommended fasting in His absence. He also fasted, while here on earth, and if Christ needed to fast, you know we absolutely 100% need to fast! It maybe difficult to fast if you have never done it before. It's even difficult if you have done it before.
But once you're in it, you'll receive so much clarity. You'll feel a recharging in your mind, soul, and body. As Isaiah 58 states, bands of wickedness will be loosed, heavy burdens will be lightened, and yokes will be broken. You'll see that fasting is such an underrated breaker of chains and you'll wonder what took you so long to fast in the first place. So please, pray about it. And trust me, God will lead you to a fast if one is needed. Or you can consecrate a fast for Him. Either way you will be greatly blessed.
That's all folks! 'Til next time, may God bless you and keep you.