What is Fasting, and Why do we do it?

Let’s face it: fasting can feel inconvenient and uncomfortable…it’s eliminating things that we enjoy! But fasting isn’t just about getting uncomfortable for the sake of seeming spiritual. It’s actually about cutting out things to make space for the good things God wants to do in us. Here’s a few reasons why fasting is worth your time!

Jesus Fasted

Jesus started his most important ministry years with a 40 day fast (Matthew 4). He clearly knew that setting aside dedicated time with His Father was essential to his new season of life. As followers of Jesus, we can take a cue that fasting is a good idea!
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.
During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”
But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” (Matthew 4:1-4)

Fasting is...

Intentional Sacrifice to Connect with God
Fasting is a spiritual practice where we intentionally sacrifice something in our lives so we can make space and time to seek God more passionately. Just like we see Jesus’ example, fasting is an act of humility, as we come before God and remind ourselves we rely on him, not “bread” (material things) to sustain us. So, the primary focus and purpose of fasting is to deeply connect with God. 

It’s also important to note that we don’t fast to earn God’s love or favor…he already loves us! Fasting teaches us to depend on God and not ourselves, and meet him in a new way that causes our hearts to connect deeper with His!  
The voluntary surrender of something we need in order to remind us that we need Jesus more.
Fasting reminds us very tangibly of our weakness and desperate need for God. It also helps us to examine ourselves, allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal to us areas of our lives that need to be transformed – and the things in our lives that keep us from living out our identity as God’s free and holy sons and daughters. In his book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster writes, 

“Fasting reveals the things that control us. This is a wonderful benefit to the true disciple who longs to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. We cover up what is inside us with food and other good things, but in fasting these things surface. If pride controls us, it will be revealed almost immediately. David writes, ‘I humble my soul with fasting’ (Ps. 69:10). Anger, bitterness, jealousy, strife, fear – if they are within us, they will surface during fasting. At first we will rationalize that our anger is due to our hunger; then we will realize that we are angry because the spirit of anger is within us.” (p.55)

When food and other good things are purposefully denied, the condition of our hearts reveals itself. Not only will we discover things that control us, but we will also see more clearly the “disorder” in our lives – we might come to discover we have given more attention and priority to things that really are not that important when seen under the Light of Christ.
Fasting really is a journey of freedom - from things that bind and blind us to real freedom of spirit.  It is setting aside time to pray for breakthrough for others.
  • One purpose for a fast is to pray that God will encounter a person in your life. Ask God if there is a family member or friend you can intercede for, or a nation or people group He puts on your heart
  • Journal anything God speaks to you for them. Ask Him to guide you in your prayers, and expect Him to answer your prayers!