USING FASTING AS A SPIRITUAL WARFARE WEAPON
Just as a general equips his soldiers with weapons needed to defeat their enemies, so God provides His followers with the weapons needed to have victory in the Christian life. We are very familiar with such weapons as prayer, worship, use of Scripture and fellowship with other believers. But there is one tool we neglect to use and that is fasting.
Christian fasting is a believer’s voluntary abstinence from food for spiritual purposes. A person may fast for health purposes, and while this can be a good thing, it’s not fasting as described in Scripture (although health benefits can result from Christian fasting). While it can be appropriate to speak of fasting from other things besides food—such as your phone, TV, etc.— technically, the Bible uses the term only in reference to abstinence from food.
Fasting can involve abstaining from food and fluids, or just from food. Most fasting includes drinking water. For medical reasons, some are unable to do this. Fasting can then be adjusted to a “partial” fast. This involves a limitation of the diet but not abstention from all food.
Fasting is expected of the believer. It is not optional, it is required. Jesus says in Matthew 6:16-17: “And when you fast … But when you fast . . .” He never says” if.” In the same passage Jesus talks about “when” we give (Matthew 6:1-2) or “when” we pray (Matthew 16:5-7). We use those passages to teach about giving and praying, but often the passage about fasting is omitted. The early church understood the importance of fasting and it was a part of their spiritual life (Acts 9:9; 13:2; 14:23).
Please understand that there is nothing magical or mystical about fasting. We don’t gain points with God Him by putting ourselves through hunger. Fasting is not a mere test of endurance, nor is it a way of gaining righteousness. God is not impressed by how much we suffer. The only suffering that ever impressed Him was that of Jesus on the cross.
Fasting is God’s idea. There are unique blessings we can receive only through fasting. Fasting must be done for a purpose other than just going hungry. You must know your purpose before you fast.
So, here’s what fasting looks like without a biblical purpose: your headaches, or your stomach growls, and you think, “I’m hungry! Oh, wait; I’m hungry because I’m fasting today.” If your next action is to look at the time, and your next thought is, “How long until this is over?” then you’re doing it wrong. There’s no biblical purpose in that. Your purpose is merely to endure it. And it’s probably just a miserable, self-centered experience.
With a biblical fast, whenever you realize that you are hungry and remember you are fasting, you remember the biblical purpose for your fast and act on it. For example, if your purpose is to pray for someone’s salvation, every time you get hungry, your hunger prompts you to pray for that person’s salvation. Or your purpose may be to have victory over a certain temptation by the enemy.
Fasting can help sharpen our focus. It can be a way of showing God and Satan that we want God’s will more than anything, even something as basic as food. Eating dulls our senses, but going without can sharpen our focus on what is really most important to us. Also, fasting can free up more time for prayer in our busy and overloaded days. Hunger becomes a means to an end (a reminder to pray) and not an end in itself. (For more information on fasting write me at Jerry@Schmoyer.net and I will send you a series of blogs I wrote on fasting. They explain the what, when, why, where and how of fasting.) (July 3, 2023 Doylestown, PA)
Ezra 8:21 I proclaimed a fast by the Ahava River, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask Him for a safe journey for us, our children, and all our possessions.
When is the last time you fasted so you could better focus your prayers on something?
Why don’t you focus more than you do?
Pray and ask God if there is anything you need to fast and pray about. If there is, ask Him how long you are to fast (start with very short fasts and build up to fasts of multiple days).
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
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