When I was growing up, I wasn’t taught about fasting, how it worked exactly or why it was important. But in Matthew 6:16 (NIV), Jesus said, “When you fast…..” It’s something He assumes we will do. Why is that? For one thing, it’s incredibly powerful. It’s important to understand that when we fast, we’re doing it for ourselves, not for God. It puts us in a more surrendered state so we are able to hear from God more easily and He is able to work more effectively in us, through us, and for us. I used to think fasting was giving up all food for days or even weeks at a time. But it doesn’t have to look like that. In fact, some health conditions prevent people from being able to do that.
The idea of fasting is to deny our bodies, our “flesh,” something it wants. So that could be a type of food that we crave, like sweets or bread. For me, it always starts with coffee! But it doesn’t even have to be food. It can be anything that feeds your flesh, like television or some other attraction. If fasting is a little foreign to you, you're not alone! Here are a few practical steps to help you experience the power of fasting: Step 1: Identify something you want to fast about. Be specific and write it down in your journal. Maybe it’s a problem you’re facing that you need His help and guidance on. It’s not essential to fast for a specific purpose, but I find it helpful. Jehoshaphat called for a fast when three armies were coming against him because he knew he would be defeated without God’s intervention (See 2 Chronicles 20). Step 2: If you’ve never fasted before, start small. Try giving up one thing for 1 to 3 days. Step 3: While you’re fasting and particularly when you are craving something the most, take quiet time to pray. Write down your prayers to Him. Listen for Him to answer you. Make sure anything you hear from Him lines up with scripture. Step 4: Stay in the Word. Look up scriptures that are relevant to what you are fasting for. Step 5: Be patient. Wait. It may not be until after the fast is over that you see how God has moved on your behalf. Step 6: Don’t boast about your fasting. Matthew 6:16-18 (NIV) tells us how we should treat our times of fasting:
“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. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 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."
God will honor your sacrifice. He will be faithful to show You His presence and power.