What is Fasting and Why Should We Do It?

At TBC Cayce this weekend, we will be having two special events. The first is a Day of Prayer on Saturday morning from 9:00-11:00, and the second is the Lord’s Supper on Sunday during our morning services.

To prepare for this weekend, I asked the church to consider fasting from Friday until Sunday. Today, I wanted to take a moment to address what fasting is and why we should do it.

What is fasting?

Strictly speaking, fasting is a willful choice to abstain from food and drink. In almost every culture fasting occurs either for religious purposes or to master the will over the body.

The Bible speaks directly about fasting. Jesus assumes fasting is part of our spiritual walk. In the Sermon on the Mount, He puts fasting, prayer and giving together as three of the key spiritual practices.  

What’s our motivation?

One of the most important parts to fasting is our motivation. Before we talk about why we should fast, I need to give a quick warning. Fasting is not done to show people how godly we are. It is not to lose weight, and it is not to save money.

It's easy to have side motives when fasting, but don’t be distracted by these worldly benefits.

Worldly things are not why we should fast. Biblically speaking, we fast for several reasons:

1.) To Show Our Commitment

Fasting is a dedicated time to express commitment to God about an issue or concern. It’s almost like telling God, “I’m serious about repentance, and I’m desperate to get an answer to prayer.”

2.) To Strengthen Our Will Power

Our physical desires can be strong at times, but we are called to be disciplined and in control of ourselves.  One of the purposes of fasting is to suppress our physical desires so that we can focus on spiritual desires. (This is why most spiritual leaders treat fasting as a regular exercise, just as an athlete might run regularly).

3.) To Hear From God

Finally, we fast to hear from God and allow Him to teach us. As our bodies desire food, we must also desire the Spirit of God in our lives. During the time we normally eat, take special moments to sit in the presence of the Lord.

How do I get started?

If God is leading you to spend time fasting, be sure to know what you're getting into.

Too many people assume they can’t fast. Part of this is due to the fact that the first few days are the hardest. After several days, most people are amazed about how long they can go without food. It is the liquid part of fasting where you have to be much more careful. Depending on several factors, your body must have water after 3 days. (Remember the issue isn’t that we want to hurt ourselves)

Often people will fast food but still drink liquids. On extended fasts, many still consume things like broth.

As I conclude this post, I want to leave you with practical steps to consider as you pursue fasting:

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of God to help you as you fast.

  2. Make a clear cut decision about what and how long you will fast.

  3. Take in the Word of God and spend extended time praying during your fast.

  4. Tell as few people as possible that you are fasting.

  5. Expect to become irritable, weak, convicted and enlightened. (Remember we are supposed to desire being in the presence of God far more than we want food, yet we don’t go without food but we will often ignore God and never even realize we are spiritually malnourished)

  6. Try making a commitment such as fasting one day a week for a month

Editor: Jackson Dame