The Foundation of Fasting

by APC on November 06, 2014

“The Foundation of Fasting” is the second segment in the Foundations for Growing series. Our key verses for this study are found in Luke 6:47–48, with the continued focus being “…founded upon a rock.”

Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock (KJV).

Why Should I Fast?

As followers of God’s Word, we need to seek out answers to such questions to help with our discipleship and growth. We learn and receive direction by reading the Word of God. The Bible provides examples for us to apply in our day-to-day living.

In the New Testament, fasting was a part of everyday life:

  • Mark 2:18—John the Baptist led his disciples to fast
  • Matthew 4:2—Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights to begin His ministry
  • Acts 13:2—The church at Antioch fasted when they faced persecution
  • Acts 14:23—Paul fasted to receive direction before appointing elders in the church
  • Acts 27:33—Paul fasted for 14 days during a shipwreck
  • I Corinthians 7:5—Paul taught the Corinthian church to fast
  • Acts 10:30—Cornelius fasted and prayed (even when he didn’t know God)

The church partakes in the foundation of fasting today because:

Fasting Is an Important Christian Discipline

Fasting for the Christian today is an important aspect of our Spiritual walk with God. Fasting is how we humble ourselves before God—it (1) acknowledges His greatness, and (2) it acknowledges our own limitations. At a high level, we can view fasting as the way we discipline our body (our flesh) toward God.Paul explained that he practiced fasting to keep himself in line with God because he didn’t want to chance becoming a castaway (I Corinthians 9:27). “Castaway” in the Greek means “failing to past the test” or “unapproved.” We don’t want to fail to pass the ultimate “test” in our walk with God.

Fasting Takes Up Where Prayer Leaves Off

Fasting can bring spiritual breakthrough in areas of your life that have remained unmoved by prayer (or other efforts) alone. Through fasting, God will activate to a greater degree.

In Matthew 17, the disciples were unsuccessful in rebuking a devil out of a man’s son. When the man brought his child to Jesus, “Jesus rebuked the devil; and [the devil] departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour” (Matthew 17:18, KJV). There are challenges we will face in our day-to-day life that will not be overcome until we fast! As in the case of the boy with the devil, Jesus said, “this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21, KJV).

Fasting Is a Private Aspect of Our Walk with God

Scripture provides examples when the corporate church body will fast, but individual fasting should be completed in private. Jesus told the disciples when they fasted to not “appear unto men to fast” (Matthew 6:16, KJV). First, Jesus did not say “if you fast..,” He said “when ye fast” (emphasis added). Fasting is not an option for the individual—God commands it.

When we fast, we should complete our daily routines (e.g., taking a shower, going to work, etc.) as usual so others do not know differently. Fasting should be completed in secret so we do not receive accolades from others. When we fast in secret, we understand that we are giving an account unto God only, and desire to stand right before Him. Fasting is much more valuable than the perception of those around us. What we do in secret, God will reward us openly (Matthew 6:18).

Fasting Brings Spiritual Focus

When we fast, we take our attention, time, and resources away from elements in our life that we normally would spend time on. Our attention, time, and resources can then focus on our spiritual relationship with God.

When we fast, we kill off (crucify) the flesh. When the flesh dies, our spiritual mind brings everything into focus! We will receive clarity in our lives, revelation in the Word of God, and a desire to draw closer to God in our spiritual walk.

Nothing dies in nature without a struggle. Our flesh will fight us when we fast. Paul noted his flesh warred against his mind when he tried to fast (Romans 7:23). We will face the same opposition, but we can overcome!

Why Do We Fast?

What Fasting is Not

Fasting is not going on a hunger strike. When fasting, we need to fill that void with a spiritual effort/activity. Instead of eating:

  • Read the Bible
  • Pray
  • Cook a meal and take it to a shelter
  • Participate in a ministry in your church

As another type of fast, we can even forgo an event/entertainment, and use the money and the time to invest in a person in need, missions, etc. Replace the “void” of what you fast with something else!

Fasting Options

There are many different types of fasts described in the Bible:

  • Total Fast: abstaining from all food and non-water liquids for a period of time.
  • Daniel Fast: 21-day fast without meats, sweets, refined or processed foods, etc.
  • Sunrise to Sunset Fast: abstaining from food and liquids from the time the sun rises and sets.
  • Partial Fast: abstaining from one meal, a snack, activity, etc.

Remember: The length of a fast is not the mark of quality (quality does not equal quantity)—we need a focused fast. In a successful fasting regime, you will find that once you fast, you are more apt to fast again and for a longer period of time.

How to Start Fasting

Start with something small (e.g., a meal, coffee, etc.).

Ask Yourself: What would hurt me if I couldn’t have it or couldn’t do it?

Once you’ve identified what “that” is, FAST IT! The principle of fasting is to deny yourself. God will honor all sacrifice, and through fasting, we are offering up ourselves. The benefits of fasting are more than you can imagine. Test Him and God will prove it!

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Adapted from: Wednesday Night Bible Study, October 15, 2014