For The Deepening Of The Spiritual Life
By Maynard James
The practice of fasting under the guidance of the Holy Spirit is a means of spiritual power in the devotional life of the Christian. It humbles the spirit, disciplines the body, gives time for self-examination, and casts the soul in humble dependence upon the Lord.
It is an evidence of an earnest quest for the deep things of God. The experience of countless numbers of saints has proved that God draws strangely near to those humble souls who, like Anna of old, serve the Lord with seasons of holy fasting.
John Chrysostom, an early church father, had a saying that fasting makes the soul brighter and provides it with wings to mount and soar.
Hudson Taylor, the founder of the China Inland Mission, has given us an interesting sidelight on the part played by fasting among certain Chinese Christians in the 19th century. He wrote:
“In Shanshi I found Chinese Christians who were accustomed, not infrequently, alone and together, to spend time in fasting and prayer. They recognized that this fasting, which so many dislike, which requires faith in God since it makes one feel weak and poorly, is really a Divinely-appointed means of grace.
“Perhaps the greatest hindrance to our work is our own imagined strength; and in fasting we learn what poor, weak, creatures we are – dependent on a meal of meat for the little strength which we are so apt to lean upon. However, the blessing comes – this I know.
“We find that when we have a serious difficulty in the China Inland Mission, and we set apart a day of fasting (we had very many), God always interposes. He goes before us, and makes crooked places straight.”
What would happen if Christians betook themselves to regular seasons of fasting and prayer in the Holy Spirit? God alone knows. Certainly Satan would tremble at the prospect!