To begin His ministry, Jesus retreated to the desert of Judea for 40 days of fasting. While we might not fast for 40 days, it is clear the Lord Himself models the importance of fasting. Since Jesus fasted, shouldn’t we?
In addition to practicing the fast, Jesus taught His disciples how to fast and said, “When you fast….” He did not say,”If you fast (Matthew 6:16). He anticipated that we would fast in the same way He anticipated that we would pray (Matthew 6:6). No believer would doubt the necessity of prayer, and neither should we discourage the significance of fasting.
In addition to these examples, Jesus affirmed His belief in the importance of fasting when, concerning His followers He said, “The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast (Matthew 9:15). Notice He said, “…they will fast.” That time, when the Bridegroom is taken away, is now. Therefore, the time for fasting is now. The fact that Jesus practiced and taught the importance of fasting is reason enough for many of us, but are there additional reasons for fasting? In other words, why do we fast?
Ron Dunn once said, “Fasting detaches us from earth and prayer attaches us to Heaven!” Throughout Scripture godly men sought God through fasting and prayer. Moses, Elijah, Daniel, and Ezra are prime Old Testament examples of men who fasted and prayed before experiencing significant spiritual victories (Ex.34:28-29; 1Kings 9:7-8; Da.10:2-3; Ezra 8:21-23). Their examples offer us additional biblical justifications for fasting.
Moses retreated for prayer and fasting before receiving the 10 Commandments. Daniel fasted when he was burdened about understanding a prophetic vision. Ezra called an urgent public fast to seek God’s protection and Joel called a nation to fast during a season of national repentance (Joel 2:12).
Each of these instances highlights the sense of spiritual intensity associated with fasting. These men fasted because their desperate circumstances were hopeless without God’s immediate presence. They were more hungry for the power of God than for their next meal.
When the stakes of life and ministry are high, the child of God should fast! When united with prayer, fasting stokes the flames of our spiritual desire, and focuses our attention on the things of God with a searing intensity. God seems to focus on those who focus on Him! So, when you need to fire up the power of your prayer life, you should fast!