The Why’s and How’s of Fasting
Have you ever noticed the way a child watches his parents’ wave at one another and then imitates their actions? We learn a tremendous amount through the process of watching and imitating others. In psychology this is knows as Observational Learning.
As believers, the life and teachings of Jesus Christ are our primary example of how to live. Therefore, we can apply this principle of observational learning to the way we read the Bible and learn about the way Jesus lived. The apostle Paul demonstrates this well, when he writes in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.”
Luke 4:1-2, reads of Jesus being led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, to fast in readiness for his ministry on earth to commence.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
Notice in verse 1 that it was the Holy Spirit that led Jesus into the wilderness to fast for a period of time. There was a purpose behind Jesus’ time in the wilderness and the enemy tried repeatedly to get Jesus to focus on the desire for food, rather than on the assignment and the purposes of the Father. When it comes to fasting, this scripture begs an obvious question:
If Jesus needed to fast, how much greater is our need to fast?
In Luke 4:2, we read that Jesus “ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.” Jesus went without food for forty days and forty nights. As you are reading this, you may be hearing your tummy begin rumble, groaning for food. In his book, Fasting, Pastor Jentezen Franklin describes fasting as “dethroning King Stomach” and explains the need to conquer the way our stomach can dictate to us.
The Bible speaks of many different kinds of fasts. In Luke 4 we see Jesus on an absolute fast, whereas Daniel 1 includes the story of Daniel, and his three companions, refusing to eat choice meats and sweets from the King’s table; opting instead for vegetables and water.
There have been days for me when fasting, that my energy has been sapped and it has been really difficult to engage with God in prayer and reading His Word. If this happens, don’t condemn yourself. There have also been days of amazing connection with God and deep times of prayer. The key is not to get bogged down too much in the details, but instead ensure you are active in combined prayer and time in God’s Word. Without that, fasting is little more than dieting.
– Matt Blount
- Does it mean something to me? If so, it will mean something to God.
- What are some of the obstacles that come up when you consider fasting?
- How could you go about “dethroning King Stomach” through fasting?
- Help me follow Jesus’ example
- The leaders in our Church