FASTING: Its Purpose & Power

21 Day Daniel Fast Begins January 8th

What Fasting is Not:

It is not a hunger strike to force God’s hand or to get one’s way.

What Fasting is:

It is a spiritual weapon to be coupled with faith and prayer. It gives earnestness and urgency to our prayers. In the same context in which the Lord taught the disciples how to pray, He also taught them how to fast (Matthew 6:1-18). In this discourse, Jesus spoke of private fasting, and He said that such fasting done in private, and not to be seen of men, brings public rewards.

There are also corporate fasts, in which a group or a church or even many churches may band together to sanctify a fast. There are many instances of this in the O. T., and these reveal various purposes for such fasting:

Esther, Mordechai, and the Jews in Shushan fasted three days for unity and solidarity against their enemy Haman who sought to annihilate them. When the enormous task of pleading their case to the King fell upon Esther, she needed strength and courage to carry it out, and deliverance came (The Book of Esther).

In the time of the prophet Joel, the people had become spiritually darkened and were suffering economically. The land was unproductive (Joel 1:16-20). God inspired Joel to call for a corporate fast with a call to repentance and the promise of restoration of their land (2:12-27). The condition was that fasting was to be accompanied by weeping and mourning from their hearts.

This holds two important keys:
Unless fasting is from the heart, it will not produce divine rewards. Also, when the flesh is in descendency through fasting, the spirit is in ascendency and controls the will and desires.

Fasting aids in overcoming temptation. The desire for food played a crucial part in the fall of man. In the perfect Garden of Eden, surrounded by beauty and luscious fruit trees, man lost the battle of temptation of his flesh. (Genesis 3:6). But in the barren wilderness for 40 days with no food, Jesus won the battle of temptation to His fleshly appetites (Matthew 4:1-4).Fasting shows that one has power and mastery over his fleshly appetites (1 Cor.7:5). In the Old Testament it was called afflicting the soul, which meant to bring one’s passions, desires, and lusts, especially for food, into subjection to his spirit, which is the part of man that is God-conscious.

Fasting helps to overcome unbelief. When facing hard cases, especially where demonic activity is involved, or seemingly impossible situations that gender unbelief, fasting can bring deliverance (Matthew 17:14-21).

Fasting fine tunes the spiritual mind and ears. As the as the five senses are crucified, the body goes into mourning, but the inner man gets stronger, and his spiritual ears are keener to hear the voice of God. The Bible becomes alive and his understanding is quickened to receive revelation. During this time, it is easier to receive divine guidance and instruction.

Before the prophets and teachers at the Antioch Church selected Paul and Barnabas for their evangelistic ministry, they ministered to the Lord and fasted. Then before they laid hands on them to send them forth, they prayed and fasted again (Acts 13:1-3). Perhaps this is why Paul instructed Timothy, “Lay hands suddenly on no man”, which means to install into an office, because he knew it is wise to seek God’s choice through prayer and fasting before placing someone in a public office (1Tim. 5:22).

Daniel fasted for 21 days to receive revelation from God. He had received visions from God for which he did not have the complete interpretations. He felt that the fulfillment was past due, and this troubled him. He was probably in his 90s at this time, and he went on a modified fast that allowed him to fast for an extended period of time. He said that he ate no pleasant bread and no meat. He ate fruits and vegetables and he drank water. After three full weeks, he had a visitation from the angel Gabriel with the answers to his petition. The revelations he received opened a window to the last days which we are still benefiting from.

In Isaiah 58 God defined the fast that He chooses which includes these acts:

To loose people from bondage of wickedness.
To undo heavy burdens, set the oppressed free, and break every yoke.
To deal bread to the hungry, clothe the naked, and give shelter to the poor.
To restore family relationships.
This kind of fasting brings great rewards:
Your light shall break forth as the noonday (increased spiritual vision).
Your health shall spring forth speedily (due to both physical & spiritual benefits.)
Your righteousness shall precede you and God’s glory will be your reward.
You will call on God and He will answer, and He will guide you continually, satisfy your soul in times of spiritual drought, make fat your bones (which speaks of health and prosperity).

Practical Tips for Fasting:

There are many kinds of fasts, from one day, to three days, and even 21 days. Fasts that consist of total abstinence of all foods should not be long. In every fast you should drink water, because the body is ridding itself of poisons and toxins which must be flushed. Anyone with any medical condition, who is pregnant, nursing, or works a job with extreme exertion or cold, should seek medical advice as to how to modify a fast that is appropriate. Everyone can fast something, and most people can fast the Daniel fast, or a modified version.

Basically, the Daniel fast consists of fruits and vegetables. An easy guideline is: No meats. No sweets. No treats. Do not eat your favorite “comfort foods,” such as pizza loaded with veggies. The point is to deny the fleshly appetites and bring them into subjection to the higher appetites of the spirit which seeks after God and spiritual things.

Some people however, must have a certain amount of protein in their diet for health reasons. There are ways to get protein from certain vegetables, nuts, soy products (tofu), brown rice. Do not eat any wheat products or products with yeast. Oats is okay and can help with regularity. There are many resources online for recipes and ideas to do a strict Daniel fast. Such as: http://danielfast.wordpress.com/daniel-fast-food-list/

For those who are unable to keep such a strict fast for 21 days and need more protein, you may consider adding protein drinks, eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese in the smallest portions necessary for your protein intake. God will honor any fast that is from the heart. This is not he Daniel fast in the strict sense, but for some it is a reasonable alternative, especially for the first time. Or you could do it half and half.

It is important to prepare for the fast by cutting your intake of prohibited foods in the days before. You may need to cut out a meal or two each day before starting the complete fast. Also, get off all processed foods.

It is also important to come off of the fast gradually. Do not eat heavy meals as soon as you break your fast. Again, come off gradually with light meals and continue to drink plenty of water. Again, be led of the Lord, by medical advice pertinent to you, and by your own Holy-Ghost quickened conscience.

There are many great books on fasting. I highly recommend this one by Marilyn Hickey: “The Power of Prayer & Fasting, 21 Days That Can Change Your Life.”