Biblical Fasting vs Our Spiritual Lives (Matthew 13: 1-23)
In the parable of the sewer, Jesus teaches that it takes good soil to produce a plentiful harvest. He warns against planting seed on the rocky places and also speaks about dangerous thorns that choke the plants. He directly applies the parable to our spiritual lives, explaining that the seed is God’s Truth; it’s only in good “heart”, soil that the Word is received and spiritual fruitfulness is produced. In fact, He tells us prepared soil can produce a crop 30, 60, or 100 times what is sown.
Many people testify that God has used biblical fasting to position their hearts to receive His Truth. It has made them ready for the planting of the Word, and through that, to receive greater insight, direction, and faith. (Romans 10:17) During the hours of fasting, they set themselves apart from earthly concerns and spent their time concentrating on heavenly matters. It was then that God revealed the stumps, rocks, and thick roots that entangled their hearts and prevented spiritual growth. Through His Spirit, He also provided the courage to confess and the strength to obey.
What is the condition of your heart soil? How much “groundwork” needs to be done so that you can receive a major planting of the Word? God desires to clear out the rocks and weeds in our lives and break up any hard soil; biblical fasting prepares for such tilling. God is calling His people to consecrate themselves to Him. Your hard soil needs to be broken up. Won’t you come before Him to be made ready?
The Powerful Practice of fasting (Acts 13:1-4)
In Acts chapter 13:1-3, there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers. As they ministered and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work where unto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.
David cried out to the Lord out of distress from his enemies: “Hold not thy peace, O God of my praise; For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue.” My knees are weak through fasting: and my flesh failed (feeble) from lack of fatness (Psalm 109: 1, 24).
There is much misunderstanding today about fasting. Some people assume it is related to dieting and the body. Others think its purpose is to impress God with the intensity of their desire. Still others hope that their self-denial will speed up the Lord’s answer. None of these are true.
Fasting is a spiritual work in which we temporarily eliminate destruction so that we can give our individual attention to our heavenly Father. It is a time of spiritual preparation through exclusion of earthly interruptions. As we abstain, other things begin to lose their sense of importance; in their place is a heightened awareness of God’s presence and His priorities for our lives. Our agenda is replaced by His, as we connect with Him in deeper intimacy and receive all that he has to tell us. It can be one of the most powerful experiences of the Christian life.
Fasting can be carried out in several ways: going without food, eliminating activities, or forgoing sleep in order to seek the Lord. You can also set aside the intimate sexual relationship between husband and wife for a limited period of time. The intent is always to be in God’s presence without disturbances so that His voice can be heard.
Have you avoided fasting because it appears too hard or too confusing? Think instead about the joy you will experience from having deeper communion with your loving Lord, and then step out in faith. Giving God your unhampered attention for a period of time is one of the wisest things you can do.
God’s Purposes for Fasting (Matthew 6:16-18)
The purpose of fasting is to prepare us spiritually for God’s work in our lives. When we eliminate whatever distracts us and give Him our undivided attention, we begin to see things from His perspective. With the Spirit’s help, we will be able to identify the areas of our being that call for change–ungodly thought patterns, habits that need to be broken, misplaced priorities, and our daily schedule. The Lord uses fasting to do some “housecleaning,” and that is a good thing.
When our mind’s filter is clogged with ungodly thinking, we are unable to take in deep scriptural truth. Among the benefits of fasting are a clear mind and greater understanding of Scripture. An additional advantage is increased spiritual discernment about others and us. We will have insight to see things that we may have overlooked before.
Following our spiritual “bath,” God’s power will be released into our lives, and we will break free from the ungodliness that has restricted us. Greater intimacy with the Lord will also result. With our minds freed of clutter and our priorities straightened out, we will be in a position for God to pour out His fullness into us. Greater confidence and courage to do the Father’s will become ours as well.
In Matthew 17:14-21 Jesus spoke of “The powerless disciples” And when they had come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.
Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I suffer you? Bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.
Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could we not cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say to you, If you have faith as a grain of mustered seed, you shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.