What is spiritual fasting?
The benefits of spiritual fasting are found all throughout the Bible. Powerful breakthroughs happen during or after times of fasting.
Moses fasted for 40 days and experienced the finger of God writing down the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34.28). Jesus fasted for 40 days and started a ministry that would forgive the world’s sins and reconcile all the earth back to God (1 Peter 3.18 & Colossians 1.20).
If you are new to the concept of spiritual fasting, you may have questions such as:
- What is spiritual fasting:
- Is spiritual fasting important?
- What are the types of spiritual fasting
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What is Spiritual Fasting
Spiritual fasting is to deny your body its physical needs (usually food) so that moves your focus from the physical to the spiritual (faith).
In simple terms, it is fasting for spiritual growth because it helps you to grow closer to God and is often a regular part of prayer life.
All throughout history, there were seasons of feast and famine. The body and soul naturally went through times of hard work and lack and times of ease and abundance.
However, today in western culture, we have 365 days of abundance. Our diet is not dependent on weather, season or location.
We can eat all kinds of foods anytime we want. We can have Chinese food at midnight if we so desire.
However, with all this abundance of foods comes a greater need for self-control. We must decide on the kinds and amounts of food that are appropriate for a healthy lifestyle.
But even with a healthy standard for eating, we most likely won’t experience famine without choosing it. Our bodies were designed to experience both feast and famine. We feast to celebrate. We fast to transform.
What are the Benefits of Fasting?
Spiritual fasting has many wonderful benefits that can improve our spiritual and physical lives.
We can start out by simply fasting a meal and work our way to fasting an entire day. Little by little, we can show our flesh that our spirit is stronger, and we can invite God into a greater capacity of our lives.
While the spiritual blessings of fasting are numerous, here are 7 spiritual benefits of fasting that you can expect.
Spiritual Fasting causes us to Rely on God
Food is one of the basic needs of life. Physical hunger is not a pleasant experience. It can actually be a difficult trial to endure, but God’s grace rises up in our lives during hard times.
When we fast, it forces us to seek God and lean into Him for help and comfort. God meets us powerfully during times we are desperate for Him. Fasting shows God that our hunger for Him surpassed our hunger for anything else.
You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water” (Psalm 63.1).
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6.33 NIV).
Spiritual Fasting Helps us be Filled with the Fruits of the Spirit
When we fast, we can become irritable and negative because our flesh is not happy. However, God calls us to bear the Fruits of the Spirit.
Fasting forces us to bypass the emotions of our flesh (which tend to be negative when hungry) and reach for divine emotions given to us through Jesus Christ.
When we feel irritable, we can grow our capacity under stress and choose to show goodness, gentleness, and self-control instead.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5.22-23 NIV).
Spiritual Fasting Opens our Heart to Hearing God’s Voice
When we fast, there is almost nothing distracting us from hearing God’s voice. We have emptied ourselves of our most basic need so we can put our full attention on God. This is the best time to make those difficult choices in life.
When we are at a crossroads and don’t know which way to turn, fasting helps us to hear God’s direction. As we walk in the Spirit, we won’t be hung up by the desires of our flesh trying to hold us down and keep us off course.
We will be able to hear more clearly from God when our spirit is stronger than our flesh.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5.16 NIV).
Spiritual Fasting Renews our Appreciation for God and His Blessings
We tend to forget how blessed we are. What once used to satisfy us now isn’t enough.
More food, more clothes, more television, more trips. Whatever it is, we can forget how much God has given us, and our unquenchable desires become stronger than our love for God.
When we take God’s blessings for granted, we take Him for granted. But God wants our hearts to be turned toward Him. He wants us to appreciate all that He has done in our lives.
When we fast, we force our hearts to turn to God and our appreciation for God’s presence in our lives will grow.
That is why the Lord says, ‘Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning’” (Joel 2.12 NLT).
Spiritual Fasting Gives Power to our Prayers
Jesus said there are some breakthroughs that are only gotten through prayer and fasting. If we have been facing the same unanswered prayer for a long time, it may be time to fast.
The prayer that is powered by both faith and fasting can be the very thing that unleashes God’s promises in our lives.
There are some spirits, like the spirit of lack and the spirit of chaos, waging war on our promises, and we have to fast for added power to defeat them.
Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, ‘Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?’ Jesus replied, ‘This kind can be cast out only by prayer’” (Mark 9.28-29 NLT).
Spiritual Fasting Creates an Environment for Miracles
Fasting forces the flesh to go under the authority of God’s Spirit in us. When we are effectively fasting, we are letting God have all the room. His Spirit becomes powerful and mighty in our words and actions.
This is the perfect atmosphere for heaven to touch the earth and transform our circumstances of lack, chaos, and fear into God’s ordained circumstances of supply, peace, and faith. However, we must ensure that our fast is done for heavenly rewards, not earthly rewards. God blesses us when we keep our fast secret unless our testimony of fasting is used to edify others.
When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6-16-18 NIV)
Spiritual Fasting helps us to Consume God’s Word
We are both flesh and spirit. Many times, we keep our flesh well-fed, as our spirit wastes away. When we fast food from our bodies, we open the way for our spirit to consume God’s Word like never before.
Our starved spirit feasts on God’s Word, supplying itself with much-needed sustenance and nutrients it desperately needs.
Whenever we take something out of our life, we must fill it with something else. When we take food out, we fill it with the Bible. As we read the Bible, the reigning Spirit of God within us will teach, grow and transform us and the world around us.
But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you know nothing about’” (John 4.32 NIV).
Jesus answered, It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4.4 NIV).
Fasting for spiritual growth is such an important part of growing stronger in our faith and growing closer to God. Spiritual fasting causes us to focus more on relying on God instead of the physical things of this world.
In what ways have you experienced God move after a spiritual fast?
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