What is fasting?
It is giving yourself (body) as an offering unto God and becoming more intimate with Him. It is another means by which we can suffer for the Lord, through the voluntary abstinence from eating. Biblical fasting is done to bring spiritual results and is not simply for physical purposes.
The key of fasting has nearly been lost to the modern church. It is also one that some say was only for early day Christians. Looking closely at the Word of God, we find that the Lord never did away with the principle of fasting, but it has been man who has attempted to make it obsolete. Fasting is still a valid key that can be used today to bring us into kingdom living.
Why do we fast?
Out of obedience! Throughout the bible God speaks continuously of fasting If Jesus did it then we have to as well because no servant is above their Master.
The main thing the Lord desires is that it be done unto Him and not as a show unto men. Our heart attitude must be right to produce spiritual results. Jesus, by fasting, set an example that we might follow in His steps.
“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:1-4.
How must we fast?
This Scripture shows us that the Lord drank water but did not eat food, for it says that after forty days he was hungry. The normal fast is without food, drinking water only.
There are also absolute fasts recorded in the Bible. Upon Saul’s conversion in Acts when he immediately went on an absolute fast for three days, having neither food nor water.
“And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.” Acts 9:9.
The body can go for a number of days without food, but cannot go for long periods without water. Therefore, the Bible does not record any absolute fasts that go beyond three days, except the account of Moses spending forty days and nights on top of Mount Sinai (Horeb) without food or water. This was a supernatural encounter with God and he was sustained during that time, because otherwise he would have died, as the human body cannot go without water that long.
“And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments. And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shown while he talked with him” Exodus 34:28-29.
We can see that because Moses was in the literal presence of the Lord, it was that presence that sustained him so he neither needed food nor water. This, of course, is an exceptional fast.
The Lord did not set up any specific duration that we are to fast, but from His teachings, we see that he did expect us to fast.
“And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bride chamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days” Luke 5:34-35.
Fasting can be done for one meal, one day, one month or for however long God leads. It depends on how the Holy Spirit speaks to us. Shorter fasts are easier to endure until we have built up our “spiritual muscles”.