Fasting Article by Chris Thompson
Many people do not really know how and why to fast or understand the benefits that come from fasting. When I first began fasting over 25 years ago, I was in the same position. Fasting seemed to be more like a strict duty where I was starving myself without getting any of the anticipated spiritual benefits. My attitude was bad and I found myself being irritated by the smallest of things. I did not like being around myself when I was fasting, much less being around others, and found that I was not being much of a blessing to others either. I began to seek God for a better understanding about the act and art of fasting. God revealed certain scriptures that changed my whole attitude about fasting and opened up a new world of spiritual intimacy with Him. I would like to share those scriptures with you and encourage you to grow in the wisdom and power of fasting.
The first scripture that God revealed to me was Matthew 6:16-18, where Jesus was preaching the Sermon on the Mount. “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” The first thing that jumped out at me was that Jesus said “when” you fast, meaning that it was understood that you should be actively engaged in fasting. There was not a question about “if” you should fast; fasting was expected. The second thing that I got from this scripture hit me right between the eyes, concerning my countenance, appearance and attitude. I like the way The Message (paraphrase Bible) says it "When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don't make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won't make you a saint. If you 'go into training' inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn't require attention-getting devices. He won't overlook what you are doing; he'll reward you well.” That changed my whole outlook on how I was supposed to fast, and it also gave me a heightened awareness of how close God was when I was fasting. He is watching and ready to reward me for my diligence in abstaining from the natural desires and for trading those desires for more of Him. We should not act in ways that would gain attention, approval or sympathy from people. We are fasting to get our reward from God by coming into a deeper relationship with Him.
The next scripture that God used to increase my understanding was the whole chapter of Isaiah 58, but specifically verses 6-9: “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.” In this scripture, the Father revealed to me His kind of fast; the fast that will bring forth the light and the glory of God; the fast that will cause the Lord to answer you when you cry out for help. He showed me that my motives for fasting should be focused more on meeting the needs of others than on myself, and that if I will do these things, then His light will shine forth. Surely, God already knows our needs, even before we ask Him, and He will meet those needs, but He is much more interested in our motives. When our motives are in alignment with His will, loving our neighbor as ourselves, then there is a release in the heavenlies from our fasting, and that release has the power to set the captives free, to loose the bands of wickedness and injustice, and to break every yoke of bondage. This is a fast that is pleasing to the Lord! When I started to view the fast in this manner, it gave me a greater desire and passion to fast the things of the natural man to see God do great and mighty things in the lives of others.
The third scripture that God revealed to me was Matthew 17:21: “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Jesus was explaining why His disciples were unable to cast the lunatic demon out of a young child. Jesus spoke to them about their doubt and unbelief, but He indicated that this particular kind of demon could not be cast out except by prayer and fasting. That tells me that there is a type of demonic spirit that requires more spiritual preparation to deal with. There is another level of spiritual preparedness available for those who want to go the extra mile and walk in the footsteps of Christ, who went about doing good, and setting at liberty “all” that were oppressed of the enemy. That got my attention. I want to walk in that level of power and authority. I want to see the oppressed set free and yokes of bondage broken. I want to see people set free from the powers of darkness so that they can find the calling of God and fulfill God’s perfect plan for their life.
Prayer and fasting always go together. The very nature of fasting is to give up things of the natural man, such as food and other physical desires, and replace those things, or the time spent doing those things, with prayer and seeking the face of God. Through this process, you will gain a closer relationship with God and He will reveal the deeper things He promised in His Word. That is what God did for me. He revealed to me how fasting is actually a privilege and there is great reward for those who will enter in. Fasting is not something to be taken lightly due to the very nature of drawing closer to God’s heart. But for those who want a closer walk with the Father and a greater anointing of power and authority, fasting is a must!
By Chris Thompson