God considers fasting important. In fact, the Bible contains no less than 92 mentions of instances where people fasted to ask for forgiveness or receive Gods grace. As Christians, Jesus set a clear examples for us, as he fasted regularly, even going as far as to officially start his ministry with prayer and fasting. Prayer and fasting is defined as voluntarily going without food in order to focus on prayer and fellowship with God. Prayer and fasting often go hand in hand, but this is not always the case. You can pray without fasting, and fast without prayer. It is when these two activities are combined and dedicated to God’s glory that they reach their full effectiveness.Prayer and fasting is defined as voluntarily going without food in order to focus on prayer and fellowship with God. Today we will examine the role if fasting in our lives.
“Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. …”
Corinthians (NIV) 1 Corinthians 7:5
Fasting is well known scientifically to benefit the physiological processes of the body. It reduces your diet’s calorific intake and also has an enormous impact on the body by kicking in a healing and longevity processes that normal diets lack. Prayer is a form of meditation and focus, as such, it affects a multitude of mind and body processes also including the physical environment, in which one finds themselves, by conscious observation and intent! Fasting and praying have always been the hallmarks of Christianity – especially the praying part. Praying helps people understand themselves as well as to communicate with God.
Fasting is a major sacrifice to God, usually done as a means of lavishing gratitude, honour, and Glory upon Him and as a purification of yourself. When we fast, we choose something or a combination of things to abstain from for a given amount of time. And during that time of purification and sanctification, we are bringing ourselves closer to God and opening ourselves up to the Holy Spirit, through whom God does His Works and bestows His Blessings and knowledge. It is this very closeness that is fostered by the act of giving unselfishly, that He may choose to work through or for us.
I’ve known people who think that we enter into some sort of contest, the idea being to see how long we can go, but that isn’t it at all. If our hearts are correctly aligned with God’s heart five seconds is enough time. Remember in John 11:42 “I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” Jesus’s heart was always in line with the Father’s, His will was the same, they were always in one according, thus He knew His prayers were always heard, and always answered. It was a lifetime commitment of prayer, meditation, and fasting, a habitual connection to the Father that was always open, that is really our goal that is what prayer and fasting create if done regularly and with the correct heart.
Well, it isn’t the fasting and praying itself per se that accomplishes the miraculous. Fasting and prayer bring us into line with God’s will and help us to hear God’s voice, which has the effect also of increasing our faith. When we know beyond any shadow of doubt that what we are asking of God is in His perfect will there will be very little to no doubt within us that the Holy Spirit is going to perform that which we asked of Him, not because we are moving God, rather it is because God has moved us by our spending time with Him. The actions of prayer and fasting really are just conduits, if approached properly, to knowing God, and knowing His will. I believe that all too often we see things backwards, we focus on self, on our wants and desires, and frankly that is not the sort of prayer God hearkens to, God is moved by a contrite heart, and humble spirit, He is moved when our goal in approaching Him is to know Him, to hear Him, to mold ourselves to His image, God already knows our needs and desires, we really do not need to tell Him of them. Prayer is really about us, as is fasting, it changes who we are.