Jesus teaching on fasting in the same passage he gives instruction concerning giving and praying. Many of us have somehow understood that giving and praying are pretty consistent disciplines, but somewhere we thought fasting was for super christians or only in January. The teaching of Jesus implies that fasting should be a constant practice in our lives, much like giving and prayer are consistent practices. This shows us that it should be regularly incorporated into our lifestyle, not just in January. Fasting is not just eating healthy food, or not eating at all, or making yourself drink more water.
Here are four reasons why fasting (and consistent fasting) is important in the life of a believer.
Fasting is laying down the pleasures of earth so that we can take up the pleasures of heaven. We don’t fast to lose weight. We fast to grow closer to God. Fasting increases our “spiritual senses,” tunes us into God’s voice, deepens our intimacy with Holy Spirit, and increases our awareness of His manifest presence and desire to partner with us.
Fasting increases levels of individual and corporate anointing. The Bible is clear that you gain power in the Holy Ghost through fasting. The Spirit of the Lord led Jesus into the desert to be tempted and to fast for 40 days. Luke 2:52 tells us that after this fast and time of temptation that Jesus returned ‘in the power of the Spirit.’
Fasting is also a time to gain direction. I know in my own times for fasting that during a season of fasting the Lord allows me to operate in a greater clarity of his purposes. When you fast, be specific. Fasting without a clear purpose is a quick way to break your fast early and disappointed.
Fasting is an opportunity to grow in prayer and the word. If you’re not reading and praying, you’re just dieting. There is a clear spiritual element that is involved in fasting. Use the time you would be eating meals to eat the word. Be consistent and diligent to focus your mind on Jesus. Ask the Holy Spirit to renew your mind in the word and guide your thoughts through the day. I believe that at no point in time will you get MORE from the word than when you are in a time of fasting.
The last reason we fast is this; we fast because Jesus told us to. Simple obedience and simple devotion is our practice. If we love Jesus and believe His heart holds good things for us, then our hearts should desire to simply be obedient to his teachings. Heartfelt Obedience to Jesus’ teaching and direction is worth it every time.