THE WHY BEHIND FASTING:
To be honest, I love to fast and I hate to fast. I love food and I am a ‘snacker’ by nature so I hate the thought of fasting. This sounds like a contradiction but this is what I love about fasting-it crucifies my flesh. I have come to realize the spiritual benefits of fasting. Simply put, it makes me stronger spiritually.
During a fast, especially in the beginning, our flesh will cry out for food and we just wag our parental index finger at our naughty little flesh and say, “No, no you little spoiled brat, you can’t have everything you want.”
In Isaiah chapter 58, it talks of fasting as “afflicting our souls”. Our soul is that outer layer of us just past the spirit that includes our mind, will, and emotion. The most outer layer of our being is our body which is like a trailer behind a truck–it just follows where the soul (mind, will, and emotion) goes. As your soulish man goes, so goes the body. Fasting puts discipline to work in the soulish man.
So why do we need to fast? It is not to get the attention of God, because we have His attention. Fasting strengthens our spiritual being by weakening the stronghold of our fleshly side. I often use the see-saw as an example because if our spiritual man is up (strong) then the fleshly man is down (weak). If we allow the fleshly man to be in control, the spiritual side is weakened. Fasting simply weakens the fleshly side making our spiritual side strong.
Fasting and prayer go together like peanut butter and jelly (I thought I would use the food analogy, sorry.). Our prayers are often answered in times of fasting because of our spiritual state. We simply pray stronger prayers. Obedient living, fasting, and prayers will result in big spiritual benefits.
I encourage you to fast. How long has it been? A first-timer? Give it a shot. Set yourself up for success not failure. You can download or print our Fasting Guidelines here.
Scripture: Isaiah 58:5-7 NKJV
(5) Is it a fast that I have chosen, A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, And to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, And an acceptable day to the LORD?
(6) “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?
(7) Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
My prayer: Lord, help me to put my flesh under control. I am going to fast so my flesh will be weakened so I can be spiritually strong. Help me in my time of fasting and remind me to fast.