Christian Education

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At the beginning of 2022, over a four week period, our pastor, Rev. Dr. James A. Jackson, Jr. Th.D., presented the Biblical Principles of Fasting to the Tuesday Evening Bible Study Class.  The study was extremely well received.  So, as promised, we are sharing the information from that class.  We pray that this material will be a blessing to you as you discover the spirital benefits of Biblical Fasting.

 

Introduction to Biblical Fasting

            Biblical fasting can be defined as abstaining from food for spiritual purposes. By simply going without food because it is not available or for medical reasons is not Biblical fasting. There must be a spiritual motivation to qualify a fast as being Biblical. In his book “A Hunger for God,” John Piper writes, “Christian [Biblical] fasting, at its root is the hunger of homesickness for God. Christian fasting is not only the spontaneous effect of superior satisfaction in God; it is also a chosen weapon against every force in the world that would take that satisfaction away.”

 

            Fasting is a weapon because there is no other way for certain powers to emerge from within you, except through fasting; because fasting removes both physical and mental obstacles, allowing the spiritual energy to express freely through you.  As a side-effect of fasting, you will discover that your abundance will increase.

 

FASTING GLORIFIES GOD, DIETING GLORIFIES SELF  -- Fasting is all about God. We fast because we hunger for more of God -- more of His presence, His Spirit, His glory.  We long to see and savor Him.  By fasting we agree with the Psalmist that our one desire is “to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD” (Psalm 27:4).  We proclaim through our fast that we need to see His beauty more than we need our next meal.

 

FASTING IS ROOTED IN THE GOSPEL, DIETING IS ROOTED IN WILLPOWER -- Paul declares, “Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do” (1 Corinthians 8:8).  The Gospel is your only hope to draw near to God in confidence.  There is no fast you could perform that would ever make you righteous.  

 

FASTING IS ABOUT FULLNESS, DIETING IS ABOUT DENIAL -- Fasting is the denial of food for the sake of greater satisfaction in Christ.  Biblical fasting is not a pursuit of emptiness.  Though fasting can feel painful in the moment, its ultimate end is always fullness.  What makes Biblical fasting distinct from dieting or other religious fasts?  We know it is actually a type of feasting.  Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst”

(John. 6:35).  He went on to say, “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (John. 6:55).  There is a spiritual feasting on Christ that satisfies the believer in a way nothing else can.  That raises the question as to why do we fast?

 

Why do we Fast?

 

  1. Fasting and prayer can restore the loss of the “first love” for your Lord and result in a more intimate relationship with Christ.  Fasting is a biblical way to truly humble yourself in the sight of God (Psalm 35:13; Ezra 8:21).  

 

  1. Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance, and a transformed life.

 

  1. The Holy Spirit will quicken the Word of God in your heart and His truth will become more meaningful to you!

 

  1. Fasting can transform your prayer life into a richer and more personal experience.

 

  1. Fasting can result in a dynamic personal revival in your own life and make you a channel of revival to others.

 

  1. Fasting allows us to deny ourselves.  "Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone will come after me, let him deny himself and take up your cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

 

  1. Fasting strengthens our spirit and weakens the flesh.  Galatians speaks about those who walk in the flesh, fulfilling its desires, won't be strong in the Spirit.

 

  1. Fasting shows our desire to seek God.  Matthews 6:33 says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you”.

 

Biblical Examples and Purposes of Fasting

 

            Jesus fasted to acknowledge His dependence and to gain spiritual strength through reliance on the Holy Spirit and God’s Word.  He did this before He began His public ministry (Luke 4:1-2).  That is a good example of what we should do before stepping into ministry.

 

            The scripture says Nehemiah fasted for confession, repentance and favor in the sight of the King to get permission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:4).  David humbled himself, asking God to intervene because of injustice (Psalm 35:13).  In 2Samuel 12:17-23, he fasted for healing and miraculous intervention.

 

            Esther, Mordecai and the Jews fasted upon hearing the news of Haman’s wicked plot for their extermination (Esther 4:3).  The early church fasted while worshipping and committing their ministry to the Lord.  They also sought the Lord through fasting for guidance and confirmation during the appointment of elders (Acts 13:2, 14:23).  Although Jesus expected His disciples to fast, He did not command it (Matthew 6:16).

 

Note:  If you fast, you will find yourself being humbled. You must accompany your fast with prayer, otherwise, it simply becomes a weight loss program. You will find that the Lord will lead you to recognize and repent of unconfessed sin and you will experience special blessings from God.

 

Various types of Fasts

 

  • The Disciples’ Fast (Matthew 17:21) -- For deliverance from sin, addiction, bondage.  If we fast, we can break the power of sins and addictions that limit our freedom in Christ.

 

  • The Ezra Fast (Ezra 8:21-23) -- For God’s help in solving problems and for protection from Satan. Ezra said that they prayed and fasted and God answered their request.

 

  • The Samuel Fast (1 Samuel 7:6) -- For revival. The people were bound by idol worship and needed deliverance.  Samuel called them to seek God and to bring the Ark back to Jerusalem.  If we fast and pray for revival, God will pour Himself out on His people.

 

  • The Elijah Fast (1 Kings 19:4-8) -- Mental freedom from emotional problems or habits.  Through fasting, God will show us how to overcome emotional problems and destructive habits.

 

  • The Widow’s Fast (1 Kings 17:9-16) -- Fasting to provide for the needy.  The widow went without food to meet the physical needs of someone else.  Because she sacrificed her food, God made sure that she had more than enough food.

 

  • Paul Fast (Acts 9:9) -- For physical healing and to get direction from God.  If we fast and submit our will to God, He will reveal His will to us.

 

  • The John the Baptist Fast (Luke 1:15) -- To enhance our walk with God and witness.  If we fast for the influence of our testimonies to reach others for Christ, God will use us.

 

  • The Esther Fast (Esther 4:16, 5:2) -- For protection from the evil one.  If we fast for protection, God will deliver us from evil.

 

  • The Jesus Fast (Matthew 4:1-2) -- For spiritual power and victory over temptation, the flesh and the devil.

 

  • The Daniel Fast (Daniel 1: 5-21; 10:3) -- Fasting for health and to seek God’s favor, purpose and vision for life.

 

 

Ways To Fast

 

  • Normal Fast – No food; water only.

 

  • Absolute Fast – Absolutely no food or water.  (Caution: Should not be undertaken for more over 3 days; and only then, if you have a clear directive from the Lord and are in good health).

 

  • Partial Fast – This could mean fasting certain meals of the day or abstaining from certain kinds of foods (i.e.: No meat or sweets, soup only, fruit and vegetables only, etc.  In Daniel 10:3, Daniel ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine.)

 

  • Intermittent Fast – Is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting.  It does not say anything about which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat them.

 

  • Juice Fast – Fruit and vegetable juices only.

 

  • Corporate Fast – A church or group of people who feel God has called them to fast together for a certain period of time.

 

  • Jewish Fast – The Jewish fast began at 6:00 P.M. in the evening and ended the next day at 6:00 P.M. (Some people follow this time period to begin and end fasts.)

 

  • Fasting and Abstinence – The word “fast” is used in the Bible to mean abstaining from food and does not refer to giving up other things. However, during a fast one can practice abstinence from other pleasures as well such as; entertainment, TV, hobbies and sex, as spoken about in 1Corinthians 7:1-5.

 

Please remember:  Biblical fasting of any type must always be combined with prayer. God called us to fast AND pray.  Even if you are only fasting during a certain meal of the day, use the time you would normally be eating to pray. The combination of prayer and fasting is a powerful way to focus on seeking God for breakthroughs and answers to prayer.

 

Medical Note:  Before beginning your fast, consult with your physician regarding your overall fitness. He or she may want to make changes to your treatments or medications including timing and dosages during the fasting period.  For example, if you are doing a partial or intermittent fast and only need to take medicine once a day; it may be easier to take your meds with the main fast day meal.  However, please do not be tempted to reschedule, skip or reduce your medications without FIRST consulting with your doctor or pharmacist.

 

Breaking your fast:  When you first coming off a fast; don’t eat anything too heavy. Make your first meal broth, light soup, juices, tea, etc. This will be easier on your stomach and digestion.

 

Bottom-line

 

            Biblical fasting is a choice that not many people go through in this day and age. Deeply grounded in religion and spirituality, it requires immense dedication.  However, those who practice Biblical fasting, praise the benefits of it.  If this is something that interests you, we recommend giving it a try and easing in slowly.  Don’t jump in headfirst, your body will need time to adjust.  In the end, you will be able to decide whether Biblical fasting is for you simply by trying and counting the benefits.

 

Rev. Dr. James A. Jackson, Jr., Th.D.-- January 2022

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