Followers of Christ fast as a spiritual discipline. We don’t fast to manipulate God and appear more righteous than others. You are not required to fast, but it is very beneficial on your walk and highly recommended. Prayer and fasting has helped me cut off many sins and things of the world that I was clinging on to.
Fasting separates you from the distractions of this world and it brings us into a closer union with God. It allows us to hear God better and fully rely upon Him.
1. Jesus expects us to fast.
Matthew 6:16-18 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
2. Humble yourself before God.
Psalm 35:13 Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting. When my prayers returned to me unanswered.
Ezra 8:21 And there by the Ahava Canal, I gave orders for all of us to fast and humble ourselves before our God. We prayed that he would give us a safe journey and protect us, our children, and our goods as we traveled.
2 Chronicles 7:14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
3. Distress and grief
Judges 20:26 Then all the people of Israel, the whole army, went up and came to Bethel and wept. They sat there before the Lord and fasted that day until evening, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord.
2 Samuel 3:35 Then they all came and urged David to eat something while it was still day; but David took an oath, saying, “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if I taste bread or anything else before the sun sets!”
1 Samuel 31:13 Then they took their bones and buried them under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.
1 Samuel 7:6 When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord.” Now Samuel was serving as leader of Israel at Mizpah.
Joel 2:12-13 “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.
Nehemiah 9:1-2 Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads. And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.
5. Spiritual strength. Overcoming temptation and dedicating yourself to God.
Matthew 4:1-11 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test. Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”
1 Corinthians 9:27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
7. Strengthen prayers
Matthew 17:21 “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
Ezra 8:23 So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.
8. Express love and worship to God.
Luke 2:37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.
9. Guidance and help making important decisions.
Acts 13:2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
Acts 14:23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
10. Drawing closer to God and separating yourself from the world.
James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Most people can go without food for a day, but I know there are some who have medical problems and can’t. Fasting is not always without food for the whole day. You can fast by skipping a meal such as breakfast or you can do a Daniel fast. You can fast by abstaining from sex (within marriage of course) or abstaining from TV. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you and always remember that fasting without prayer is not fasting at all.