What Fasting Is
Fasting is, undoubtedly, a "painful" experience. It requires self-discipline and willpower ; in other words, character -- to prod yourself to fast. It is not easy. It is totally contrary to human nature! I must confess that humanly speaking I hate fasting. It seems like sheer torture. I have to force myself to fast. In fact, I find that I have to pray earnestly to YAHWEH for both the strength and the will power to fast.
Yet, the Bible shows that fasting is very important in Yahweh’s sight! It is not merely painful abstinence in order to please a harsh, unyielding, monster God who relishes seeing people suffer! Fasting -- doing without any food or water (Jonah 3:7) -- teaches a vital, priceless spiritual lesson!
It not only teaches, it drives home the tremendous lesson Yahweh is teaching! It makes you feel it, in your head, your stomach which seems to stretch against your backbone, your arms, your legs -- YOUR WHOLE BEING!
If you have ever fasted for a day or more, you have noticed how weak your body becomes. The strength seems to drain away, out of your body. The energy and forcefulness evaporates into nothingness. Yet, after many of the poisons leave your system, your mind becomes clear and sharp.
Your whole body cries out for food, water, something to eat or drink! You hunger! You experience a deep thirst!
But in the meantime, you learn a vital lesson. What is this great lesson?
David expressed it when he said, "I HUMBLED my soul with fasting."
When you fast, you learn how weak, insignificant, uselessutterly worthless -- you, yourself, are. You learn how little and weak you are of your own strength. Your pride is toppled, your vanity is burst, your self-esteem is shattered. The facade is stripped away -- and you are laid bare! Exposed! Just you.
It is a humbling experience. You learn humility. You learn that you are merely a very physical human being. You are not nearly so "impressive" as you thought you were! In fact, you are just a big windbag, a hulk of cringing human flesh -- of your own self.
Without fasting, you may mentally admit that you are not much. But you don't really comprehend it -- you don't feel it! You don't see how really weak and insignificant you are, until you begin to do without food or drink for a period of time. Then the lesson is driven home -- right into the pit of your stomach!
Not only do you learn how weak and worthless YOU are, when you fast -- but you are made aware of the greatness of Yahweh. You learn how much you need Him -- you begin to see how greatly you must rely upon Him, and receive of His strength. You realize you have no strength of your own, but YAHWEH is the source of all power, all might -- the source of the miracle-working power of His Holy Spirit! His Spirit is the Spirit of power and strength (Ephesians 6:8-10; II Timothy 1:6-7).
Being human, as long as you feel strong and sufficient of yourself, you will by nature trust in yourself. YAHWEH is not so important to you.
But when you fast, YAHWEH becomes very important! You begin to feel in your innermost being how much you need and depend upon YAHWEH. Fasting brings you to grips with reality. You see -- and feel -- yourself as you really are. You are brought face to face with your dependence in everything upon your Heavenly Father!
What does fasting do for our Spiritual life?
- Fasting and prayer is one of the most powerful weapons we have received from Yahweh for the battle of our soul against our enemy and for the souls of others.
- Fasting and prayer a way to humble ourselves before YHWH.
- Fasting and prayer helps us hear from Yahweh.
- Fasting and prayer reveals our innermost part and therefore our hidden sin before Yahweh.
- Fasting and prayer destroys the work of the flesh. It helps us to die unto ourselves.
- Fasting and prayer breaks the chains, curses and pacts made with the occult.
- Fasting and prayer strengthens our intimacy with Yahweh.
- Fasting and prayer teaches us to pray with right motives.
- Fasting and prayer builds up our faith.
- Fasting and prayer produces the fruit of “self control”.
- Fasting and prayer brings our body the temple of the Holy Spirit in a total rest.
YHWH Commands us to Fast
On one day in the year, YAHWEH absolutely commands His people to fast. We read, "Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls...And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the Lord your God. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people...It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath" (Leviticus 23:27-32).
Notice! Yahweh’s people were commanded by a "Thus saith the Lord" to "afflict your souls" one day of the year -- the Day of Atonement! What does it mean to "afflict the soul"?
David knew. He declared, "But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled [afflicted marginal reading] my soul with fasting" (Psalm 35:13). He also declared, "When I wept, and chastened my soul WITH FASTING, that was to my reproach [from the world]" (Psalm 69:10).
To "afflict one's soul" was to fast -- to abstain from all food or drink. Luke, the author of the book of Acts, knew the Day of Atonement was a day of fasting -- he called it "the fast" (Acts 27:9).
Anyone who did not FAST upon this solemn day was "CUT OFF" from among the congregation.
But this is not the ONLY command YAHWEH gives His people to fast! We read in the New Testament, that Yeshua the Messiah went into the wilderness and fasted for forty days and nights (Matthew 4:1-4). He fasted to draw close to YAHWEH the Father and receive SPIRITUAL STRENGTH from Him. He fasted so that he would be able to withstand Satan the devil when he came around, tempting him.
The Apostle Paul shows that Yeshua is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). If he fasted when he trod the dusty roads of the wilderness, then, he will be fasting TODAY, in you, if he lives in you!
Since Yeshua fasted, 1900 years ago, and since Christians are those who follow Yeshua's example, they will fast TODAY! (I Peter 2:21). He that says he abides in the Messiah, "...ought himself also so to walk, EVEN AS HE WALKED" (I John 2:6). Therefore, he ought to FAST!
The Messiah Taught Fasting
Notice! The first mention of fasting in the New Testament, other than the actual example set by Yeshua the Messiah, is found in the "sermon on the mount." Yeshua taught his disciples, "Moreover, when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which SEETH in secret, shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:16-18).
Yeshua taught his disciples to fast. He gave them clear-cut, concise instructions as to how to fast. He did not say, "If, sometime, you think you want to fast", he stated, "WHEN you fast"! He knew his true followers would be fasting!
Yet, the disciples of John didn't see Yeshua's disciples fasting. They wondered why. They asked him, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?"
Yeshua replied, "Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast" (Matthew 9:14-15).
The Purpose of Fasting
They humbled themselves, abased themselves admitted that they were insufficient of themselves. They extolled YAHWEH’S greatness, His divine might and power, and depended upon Him. They admitted their carnality, their wickedness and guiltiness-they fasted and REPENTED of their sins!
As a result, YAHWEH heard them and supernaturally delivered them!
What about you?
If you have not been fasting, no wonder your life lacks spiritual impact. No wonder you have been bogging down in countless problems, trials, difficulties, frustrations! If you have not been drawing close to YAHWEH God by afflicting yourself and fasting, as Yeshua the Messiah commands you to do, is it any wonder you have not been growing spiritually, overcoming yourself, conquering your human nature, learning to submit to the will of YAHWEH God, or been receiving of the power of the Holy Spirit to zealously serve YAHWEH? Is it any wonder, then, why you have been a spiritual weakling rather than a spiritual man of valor?
Now you have been exhorted, admonished and warned. You have only yourself to blame if you fail to obey YAHWEH God!
YAHWEH exhorts you, in His Word, "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...?" (Joel 2:12-14).
To draw closer to YHWH
You need to FAST! You need to draw close to YAHWEH God and seek His face in fasting and prayer!
If you fast and draw close to YAHWEH, depending on Him and acknowledging your need for Him, He will turn to you and strengthen you, and fill you with His Holy Spirit! He will give you the Spirit of power, love and a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7). He will give you the Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, humility, faith, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
YAHWEH God will inspire you with His Holy Spirit. Even while you are doing without physical food, you will be receiving spiritual nourishment. Yeshua said, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow RIVERS OF LIVING WATER. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive...)" (John 7:37-39). "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are LIFE" (John 6:63).
Yeshua received power from YAHWEH the Father to do mighty works, miracles, and accomplish the Work of YAHWEH! What were the KEYS to Yeshua's spiritual power? He fasted and prayed.
You also can receive that spiritual power and strength. By drawing closer to YAHWEH in prayer and fasting, you can receive new vigor, enthusiasm, spiritual steadfastness and staying power! Fasting can change your approach to YAHWEH , broaden your horizons, fill you with greater FAITH. Fasting will not only cause you to feel more thankful for the blessings of YAHWEH -- the little things like food and drink -- but it can change your entire approach and OUTLOOK! It can literally alter and change your whole life! It can help you overcome those obstinate and pugnacious and tenacious and besetting sins and bad habits. It can break the iron-like grip or hold of sin. It can smash and destroy the shackles, bonds and chains that hold you slave to sin!
When you draw close to YAHWEH in fasting, the tenacious grip of the lusts of the flesh and the pride of life will lose its strength. You will leave the well-worn rut in which you have been constantly plodding along! Your attention will not be centered, focused on SELF.
Do you want YAHWEH to intervene on your behalf? Do you want to receive more of the holy spirit? Do you desire to have close, intimate contact with your Heavenly Father, who bestows every good and perfect gift?
Do you desire to have greater spiritual POWER AND IMPACT in your personal life? Do you want to be FILLED with the spirit of YAHWEH your God, the spirit of love, POWER, and sound- mindedness?
Do you desire to WALK WITH YHWH your GOD?
How long should I fast?
"How long you fast is entirely up to you and the leadership of the Holy Spirit. The Bible gives examples of fasts that lasted:
-One day or part of a day (Judges 20:26 ; 1 Samuel 7:6; 2 Samuel 1:12; 3:35; Nehemiah 9:1; Jeremiah 36:6)
-A one-night fast (Daniel 6:18-24)
-Three-day fasts (Esther 4:16; Acts 9:9)
-Seven-day fasts (1Samuel 31:13; 2 Samuel 12:16-23)
-A fourteen-day fast (Acts 27:33-34)
-A twenty-one day fast (Daniel 10:3-13)
-Forty-day fasts ( Deuteronomy 9:9; 1Kings 19:8; Matthew 4:2) and
-Fasts of unspecified lengths (Matthew 9:14; Luke 2:37; Acts 13:2)