Benefits of Fasting
Some interesting facts... Doctors today are finding that fasting brings physical benefits. When we fast for several days, it has a cleansing effect on the body and clears the mind. God made our bodies to do that naturally. When we are sick, we are not hungry, we lose our appetite, therefore not taking toxins in and subsequently cleansing our body.
The Fasting Center International says fasting can remove 5-10 lbs. of toxic chemicals in the average adult’s cell, tissue and organ areas. They also suggest that fasting heightens your clarity of consciousness, it moves you back towards your life’s birthright potential of optimal health, increasing your happiness and healing power as you scientifically reset your body’s odometer. Even people who are underweight at the beginning of a fast have been known to gain weight after completing the fast.
According to Mark Mattson Ph.D., the current Chief of the Laboratory of Neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging, "Fasting does good things for the brain, and this is evident by all of the beneficial neurochemical changes that happen in the brain when we fast. It also improves cognitive function, increases stress resistance, and reduces inflammation." Dr. Mattson has discovered fasting 2 times a week can significantly lower the risk of developing both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Fasting removes unnecessary weight naturally, restores energy you used to have, enhances the wisdom God gave you naturally, enhances you spiritually and lifts your faith.
Along with physical benefits, fasting for the Lord has spiritual benefits. Matthew 6:16-18 Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full, But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you openly.
In other words, it’s between you and God. Nobody else has to know about it. Jesus says “when you fast” not “if you fast”. Fasting is just as essential for your spirit as praying, it should be in your routine regularly. Fasting with prayer is an act of righteousness.
Matthew 6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms (acts of righteousness) before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Verse 2-3 talk about giving in secret, 5-6 says to pray in secret and verse 16-18 says to fast in secret. Our Father knows all our acts of righteousness and will reward us.
The hypocrites fasted for “self”. They made their faces black with ashes, or sometimes wore a veil, or made somber faces, didn’t wash their face or comb their hair when they fasted. They did it outwardly for their own reputation. It was not for their own spirit, but for their self. They didn’t fast for the Lord.
Fasting is an act of self-denial, mortification of the flesh. Dr. Mattson suggests it is a challenge to your brain. It is telling your flesh that your spirit is in control. When fasting, you are curbing the flesh and its desires, making you to be more lively in religious exercises- Matthew Henry commentary. If you’re busy letting people know you’re fasting, you’re wanting attention. When you seek attention and pity, or praise and applause, you are not seeking God. Seeking attention is wanting to uplift yourself which leaves no room for listening for God’s voice, no room for hearing Him, and no room for praying, therefore there will be no spiritual breakthrough.
Jesus doesn’t tell us how often too fast, but He will let you know when to. He will speak to your heart. Fasting is the most powerful spiritual discipline for the Christian. Fasting and prayer can let the Holy Spirit transform your life. When we seek God’s face through fasting and prayer with a broken, repentive and contrite spirit, He hears from Heaven and heals our lives, our churches, our communities. Fasting and prayer can bring about revival, it can actually change the direction of a nation and fulfill the Great Commission.
Some benefits of fasting can be 1. Light 2. Health 3. Righteousness 4. God’s glory being your rearguard (securing your passage) 5. Answered prayers and cries for help 6. God’s guidance 7. Satisfaction 8. Strengthening 9. Restoration. This is all found in Isaiah 58:8-12
Fasting can restore your first love for the Lord and give you a closer walk with Him. The purpose of a fast is to sacrifice to God, humble yourself to Him, come closer to Him, understand His Word more, find His will and direction, seek healing or to intercede and pray on behalf of others. When you need an answer to something and prayer alone hasn’t gotten any results, fasting is a helpful tool.
Psalm 35:13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; …David humbled himself before the Lord with fasting and prayer for his enemies as though they were his friends or brothers. (35:14) God wants us to respond in mercy to our enemies, just as God responded towards us while we were yet sinners. Christ sacrificed Himself for us.
Fasting helps loose the chains of injustice, set captives free, to raise relief for the poor, renewal, and protection. Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your house, to clothe the naked when you see him, and not to ignore your own flesh and blood? Isaiah 58:6-7
The Lord wants us to fast, deny ourselves and seek Him so He can do a mighty work in us and through us, for us and for others.
The devil doesn’t want you to fast and will try and make it difficult for you by distraction or otherwise. He knows that it wins battles against evil. Matthew 17:21 "But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting." (In fact- the devil has taken this verse out of some Bible versions because he doesn’t want you fasting) Jesus was talking about a demon. Fasting is used as a weapon in a spiritual battle. Combined with prayer, it is one of the most powerful weapons a Christian has. It shows discipline to the Lord, and it shows Him you are serious about your prayer requests whether they be for others or yourself.
When fasting, you are not forcing God to do something, but resisting supernatural strongholds and power in your life. While you fast, you are to seek God’s face, especially during times of weakness when you want to partake in what the Lord has asked you to give up- usually meal times. Focus wholly on Him, desire God's will instead of yours. Make every act one of praise and worship toward Him. This brings you into a time of heightened spiritual devotion. This in turn strengthens your faith, and this is your shield against the enemy’s attacks. Your prayers can become powerful and effective when focusing on God.
In Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus fasted 40 days and nights. During this time, it is recorded that the devil tempted Him 3 times. Luke 4:2 says He was tempted for 40 days. Each time Jesus responded with God’s Word. He was armed and prepared for the enemy with the Word of God, with the Truth.
Biblical fasting is always connected to prayer and communication with God. Just before Jesus was sent to the wilderness for 40 days, He had gotten baptized and was praying, then Heaven opened up and God said, “You are My beloved Son, with You I am well pleased.”
Praying, seeking God, reading His Word, and being humbled goes hand in hand when you fast. It is natural to want to seek Him more. You have more time to pray the more or longer you fast. You become aware that you need to turn to God and seek His face. There is nothing else to rely on for strength except Him. You become aware that He is your strength so you lean on Him more.
True spiritual fasting focuses on God. Zechariah 7:5 … for the past seventy years, was it really for Me that you fasted? Your attitudes, actions, desires, motives and words need to be totally centered on God. He has to be your center of attention- all else is by the wayside. Nothing else should be important. The Holy Spirit will bring your sins to your attention so you can ask forgiveness and go on and continue with God.
2 Chronicles 7:14 If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Humble, pray, seek Him, confess, turn from wickedness… these are all contained in fasting. God said He will hear from heaven and forgive and heal. Through your fasting God can heal our land. Through your prayer and fasting, others are blessed.
There are many examples in the Bible of fasting and many different ways. No certain way is right or wrong. There is no certain length of time, or certain food or thing to abstain from. John Wesley fasted every Wednesday and Friday, requiring his clergy to do the same to keep their walk close to God. Apostle Paul made it a continuous part of his walk with God. Nobody’s method was right or wrong. Fasting is a condition of the heart, not the number of days. Some people are impressed by God to fast 40 days. Saul fasted 3 days while he was blind. Moses fasted 40 days, then another 40 days.
Some fast 1 meal a day, 2 meals a day, 1 week a month, 1 day a week, some are no food or water, some are no food but water, liquids only, or abstain from a certain thing or habit that God has impressed upon them to give up. The Holy Spirit tells you what He would like you to fast and when to stop. He will never ask you to fast longer than you can handle. God never intends to harm your body.
The important thing is to remember why you are fasting. Your vow to God can lead to desired spiritual results as you seek His face. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:17-18