Purpose of this Session
Apart from simple physical benefits of fasting, such as detoxifying the system, breaking addictions to certain types of foods, sugars and additives etc, the Scriptures declare many powerful spiritual benefits that are available to the one who avails him/herself of this important spiritual discipline.
Spiritual Benefits of Fasting
1. Fasting releases us from bondage and addiction to sinful habits and strongholds.
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?” (Is 58:6 NKJV)
Jesus made it clear to His disciples that certain demonic strongholds and afflictions will not yield to prayer alone, we must add fasting if we want to experience total victory:
“So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”” (Mark 9:29 NKJV)
As believers we are also encouraged to rid ourselves of ‘besetting sins’ (Heb 12:1) and to ‘cast of the works of darkness’ (Romans 13:12). Fasting can help us to accomplish this.
We are also called to fast and pray, humbling ourselves before God, in order to realise the healing of nations:
“if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
(2Chr 7:14 NKJV)
2. Fasting brings deliverance and Victory over our enemy
Throughout Biblical history fasting has been utilised to bring deliverance, not only on a personal level, but also on a national level.
2 Chronicles chapter 20 records an event in Israel’s history when impossible odds were facing the people of God. Enemy armies were threatening from every direction when Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, proclaims a fast (2Chr 20:3). Every man, woman and child was expected to participate (2Chr 20:13). What follows is a mighty supernatural victory.
The book of Esther also records an amazing deliverance from the enemies of God’s people, and the place of fasting and prayer in the accomplishment of this victory. Collective fasting was instrumental in saving the nation.
Modern history of nations is also marked by victories won as the people were called to fast. Several times during the first and second world wars, national fasts were proclaimed, with miraculous results. (in relation to Britain David Gardner’s historical book, ‘The Trumpet Sounds for Britain’ records several of these. ‘Shaping History Through Fasting and Prayer’ by Derek Price records instances of corporate fasting in the history of America.
3. Fasting is God’s ordained means of humbling ourselves, in order that He might lift us up
God resists the proud but lifts the humble (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).
A proven and Scriptural way to humble oneself is to fast:
“I humbled myself with fasting....” (Psa 35:13 NKJV)
“I wept and chastened my soul with fasting.”(Psa 69:10 NKJV)
Rightly practiced, fasting humbles the soul, bringing the soul and body in subjection to the spirit. It is not the proud and strong who get the ear of God, but the humble and broken, whose hearts are humble before Him:
“For all those things hath mine hand made, and those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” (Is 66:2 KJV)
Fasting is also closely associated with repentance, and often accompanied repentance leading to deliverance and aversion of disaster:
“Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?” (Joel 2:12-14 KJV)
On a national level, the fast of the heathen city of Nineveh is a classic example of fasting and humbling averting the destruction of the city (Jonah 3:3-10).
4. Fasting precedes spiritual renewal, revival, reformation, healing and salvation
Both history and the Scriptures themselves testify to this truth. The famous chapter in Joel promising an outpouring of the Spirit (Joel 2:28) are prefaced by verses compelling prayer, fasting and repentance (Joel 2:15-18).
Every major move of God throughout history has followed this pattern. Throughout history reformation and revival leaders all fasted; Martin Luther, John Knox, the Hussites, the Moravians.
John Wesley believed so fervently in the necessity of fasting that he refused to ordain anyone into ministry who would not covenant to fast two times each week. He is quoted as saying, “The man who never fasts is no more in the way to heaven than the man who never prays.”
Isaiah’s famous chapter on fasting, Chapter 58, promises the following to those who fast according to God’s principles:
i. Then shall your light break forth like the morning,
ii. and your healing (your restoration and the power of a new life) shall spring forth speedily;
iii. your righteousness (your rightness, your justice, and your right relationship with God) shall go before you [conducting you to peace and prosperity],
iv. and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.”
(Isaiah 58:8 AMP)
He continues in verses 10-12 and 14:
“And if you pour out that with which you sustain your own life for the hungry and satisfy the need of the afflicted,
v. then shall your light rise in darkness,
and your obscurity and gloom become like the noonday.
vi. And the Lord shall guide you continually
vii. and satisfy you in drought and in dry places and make strong your bones.
viii. And you shall be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters fail not.
ix. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of [buildings that have laid waste for] many generations; and you shall be called Repairer of the Breach, Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
x. Then will you delight yourself in the Lord, and I will make you to ride on the high places of the earth, and I will feed you with the heritage [promised for you] of Jacob your father; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.”
(Is 58:10-12,14 AMP)
With so many promises of reward we would be foolish not to accept, believe and act upon them by fasting both individually and corporately.
5. Fasting Prepares the heart to hear clearly from God
Faith comes by hearing God speak to us personally (Rom 10:17). Regular time in the Word sensitises the heart to His voice. Added to this, fasting focuses the ear of the disciple to receive direction and comfort from the mouth of the Lord.
“Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, Here I am…” (Is 58:9 AMP)
In many places throughout Scripture we find God’s people fasting in order to more clearly hear God’s direction.
Ezra and the returning Jews fasted for safe conduct and protection in their journey back to their homeland. God heard and answered and the group returned confident of God’s direction. (Ezra 8:21-23)
The book of Acts records instances of ministry unto the Lord in fasting, resulting in clear direction from the Holy Spirit:
“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Separate now for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2 AMP)
“And Cornelius said, This is now the fourth day since about this time I was observing the ninth hour (three o’clock in the afternoon) of prayer in my lodging place; [suddenly] a man stood before me in dazzling apparel, And he said, Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and harkened to, and your donations to the poor have been known and preserved before God [so that He heeds and is about to help you]. Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is surnamed Peter; he is staying in the house of Simon the tanner by the seaside.” (Acts 10:30-32 AMP)
Fasting ushers in God’s prophetic purposes
Daniel 9 records how Daniel realised God’s stated prophetic purpose through fervent prayer coupled with fasting. He read of God’s promise, and interceded for its fulfilment. In a similar way, we too must contend for the purposes of God to be fulfilled in our lives and nations. Fasting can play an integral part in this process.