God’s Word Teaches Fasting
The Word of God teaches fasting and commands it. God promises results beyond all that can be asked or thought to those who give themselves to genuine Bible fasting and prayer. You can turn judgment into deliverance if you will learn God’s will in fasting and prayer and do it!
“Then shall they fast in those days,” said Jesus (Mark 2:20). This was Jesus’ answer to the people who questioned why His disciples did not fast as did John’s followers. When the Bridegroom is taken away, then they will fast, Jesus told them.
It was the will of God that the church fast. They did it in the early church. The church of Antioch fasted and prayed concerning missionary work.
“As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away” (Acts 13:2-3).
They fasted for the persecuted Christians and the ordaining of church leaders. Paul and Barnabas visited the churches where they had been before, exhorting and encouraging the people. “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on Whom they believed” (Acts 14:21-23). Paul, in referring to his ministry, mentions “in fastings often” (2 Cor. 11:27).
Fasting Is for Today
We are still in “those days” spoken of by Jesus when He said His disciples would fast. We shall be in “those days” until the end of the church age. All that Jesus commanded and taught His followers while He was here on earth is for us today.
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:19-20). The “all things” that Jesus taught includes fasting with prayer – “Then shall they fast in those days” (Mark 2:20).
Reasons for Fasting
There are reasons for fasting with prayer that make it a necessity in our Christian lives. Fasting helps us to become broken up in our hardened hearts. It helps to put a concentration and wholeheartedness into our prayers that enables us to prevail with God. “Turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping” (Joel 2:12).
“I humbled my soul with fasting” (Psa. 35:13). Fasting helps to humble the soul and brings us to a spirit of repentance. “And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting…And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession…We have sinned…and have rebelled, even by departing from Thy precepts and from Thy judgments” (Dan. 9:3-6).
Fasting also brings us into harmony with God in such a way that faith operates in a more perfect degree. The disciples could not cast the demon out of the boy who was brought to them. Jesus came upon the scene of defeat. He spoke the word and the boy was set free. The disciples asked, “Why could we not cast him (the devil) out?” Jesus said, “Because of your unbelief” (Matt. 17:20). “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matt. 17:21). This shows that some things will not happen unless we do fast.
Fasting with Right Motives
Fasting with right motives cannot be over-emphasized. “But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy 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” (Matt. 6:17-18).
We are not to fast with the thought of appearing spiritual before others, or to be seen. Others may know we are fasting, but we do not have to parade it. It may be necessary to tell the one who ordinarily prepares our meals that we are going to fast. Even in the church, if the minister asks for a show of hands for those who are willing to fast and pray, the hand can be raised without a motive to be seen of men.
When fasting, guard against any feeling of self-righteousness or condemning of those who do not fast.
Fasting can never be looked upon as a merit that gains us favor with God as though we can purchase something by our efforts. Fasting, like prayer, is only a medium that opens the way to get in touch with the Lord, whose merits alone bring us the desired blessing.
Boasting in our fasting and praying as a means of bringing results must not be tolerated. Give all glory to God who gives us grace to fast and pray in an effective way!
–Taken from a tract written by Dorald Bell Whitlock.