Why Would a Christian Fast?

Anne Marie Winz

Fasting, a spiritual discipline, is a way to grow deeper in your relationship with God. Sometimes fasting means giving up a necessity, like food, but you can also fast by refraining from a pleasure, like social media. Fasting helps you to humble yourself and remember that you depend on God alone to meet all your needs. And for a time, it makes feeding your soul a higher priority than feeding your body.

So, why might a Christian fast? Here are a few great reasons. When you fast...

You Turn Down the Volume

In Psalm 46:10, God says, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (English Standard Version).

When you deny yourself food (or other things you rely on), you humbly admit your dependence on God alone to meet your needs. As your metabolism slows down, so can you, and you can allow the fast-paced world to fade to background noise for a short time.

You Can Hear From God

In John 16:13, Jesus says, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth” (ESV).

One of the Holy Spirit’s jobs is to lead you into truth, but it’s hard to listen when life moves so loudly and quickly around you. Give yourself space to receive guidance from Him. You might want to journal your thoughts and prayers during the time of your fast.

You Worship God

In Acts 13:2-3 (ESV), Luke writes about the experience of one early church:

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

The church leaders fasted while they worshipped, and then they received instructions from the Holy Spirit. As they worshipped God for Himself, not for the gifts he’d given them, they received the guidance they needed, and they confidently sent Saul (that is, Paul) and Barnabas to preach the gospel.

You Have an Opportunity To Help Other People

In Isaiah 58:6-7 (ESV), God says,

“Is not this the fast that I choose:

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?”

When you fast, you have the opportunity to look for ways to help others. Jesus commands you to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-39).

Fasting is a time to consider ways you can love your neighbor. Someone somewhere will need help. It might be inconvenient, but fasting is a time to turn from your own needs and look outside yourself. Instead of saying you don’t have time and walking away from a need, consider going out of your way to help someone. But be careful: this might become a habit.

You Cultivate Dependence on God

After Jesus was baptized and before He began His public ministry, which would eventually lead Him to the cross, He spent 40 days and nights fasting in the wilderness. Like prophets before Him, Jesus, who was fully human, chose to endure the physical weakening of His body — even while temptation and spiritual attack came at Him in full force — to rely on the Word of God before launching into the most significant season of His earthly life.

Although Jesus is not recorded to have fasted often, nor to have required His disciples to fast (see Matthew 9:14), it is clear that He saw its value. Still, unlike the religious leaders of the day, Jesus clarified that fasting is a private activity meant to spiritually commune with God and not to win spiritual “brownie points” in the eyes of others.

In Matthew 6:16-18 (ESV), Jesus says:

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 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.”

Fasting is a discipline. When you fast, you can come to depend upon the Lord more deeply.

Do you know Jesus as the Lord of your life? If so, might God be calling you to try a fast?

For more information, consider reading part 3 of this series: “What Does the Bible Say About Fasting?” or looking over the Fasting Starter Kit.


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