Most Christians are missing out on one of the Bible’s most serious techniques regarding how to come before God in prayer, petition, and repentance. In the Sermon on the Mount, including Matthew chapter six, Yahshua (Jesus) gives us four key areas of a Christian life. Verses 2-4 speak of when (not if) we do alms, or give charitably. Verses 5 – 15 speak of when (not if) we pray. Verses 16 – 18 speak of when (not if) we fast. Finally, verses 19 – 34 remind us that true wealth comes through trust in God, not money.
Very few Christians totally ignore almsgiving. It is standard to put something into the offering plate every week or every paycheck, or at least give donations to churches and charities at year end. We all know that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Likewise, very few Christians totally ignore prayer. Who among us can’t recite the Lord’s Prayer (found in Matthew 6:9-13)? Who doesn’t offer a blessing over meals, at least occasionally? Yet the exact opposite applies to the practice of fasting. It does not even occur to the majority of Christians to make fasts a part of their walk with God.
In the Old Testament we have many examples of notable individuals such as King David, Queen Esther, and Daniel fasting (2 Samuel 12:16, Esther 4:16, Daniel 9:3), and where we see fasts proclaimed and observed by the entire congregation (2 Chronicles 20:3, Nehemiah 9:1).
This practice continued in the New Testament. Immediately after his baptism, Yahshua went into the wilderness and fasted 40 days and 40 nights (Matthew 4:2). Although apparently there was no further fasting among him and his disciples prior to the crucifixion, he stated that once he would be taken from them, they were to fast (Matthew 9:15, Mark 2:20, Luke 5:35).
In Acts 10:30-31, Cornelius was fasting when his prayers were heard. When the new church was sending people on mission trips or ordaining new elders, they prayed and fasted (Acts 13:2-3, Acts 14:23). Yahshua warned that some types of demons could not be cast out without prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21). Paul suggested that spouses separate from physical intimacy occasionally to fast (1 Corinthians 7:5), and he himself fasted often (2 Corinthians 6:5 and 11:27).
Isaiah 58:8-9 suggests many results of fasting: health shall spring forth, righteousness shall go before thee, the glory of Yehovah shall be your rear guard, and when you call upon him, he will answer. Are these not all results that we would want in the church today? That being the case, consider this article your call to start fasting.
You may wish to first consult your physician, especially if you are diabetic or have any other type of health condition. There are also many good books that can teach you the best way to incorporate fasting into your life. To ease yourself into a fast, it is best to start slowly. You might begin by a day where you can eat anything except particularly heavy foods (meats, bread, etc) or sugary foods. Build on that the next day by also eliminating all cooked foods (so you’re eating only fresh fruits and vegetables) along with drinking plenty of water. By the next day, eat only fresh fruits. You may wish to conduct your actual fast from sundown to sundown (for 24 hours). Drink lots of water, especially the moment you feel any hunger coming on, and each time you think of food, turn to fervent prayer instead. Then after sundown, have a light snack of natural, raw foods such as some fruit and nuts, and ease yourself back into healthy eating the next day.
Remember, it should not be if, but when. I would like to encourage you to schedule a day of fasting within the next week. You may wish to also decide upon a particular focus for your fasting prayers. You just may discover that you have been missing out on a blessing that has been part of God’s plan for you all along.