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Questions On Fasting
Fasting is a powerful, spiritual weapon when we face challenging situations. In the Bible we read of others such as Queen Esther who fasted when facing the extinction of her people. Her response was to ask her friends to fast with her as she prepared herself to approach the king and intercede for her people. She did this knowing that according to the Persian law of the time this could be cause for her death.
Ezra fasted when he was about to journey back to Jerusalem from Babylon with families and treasures. He knew danger would lie ahead and without the intervention of God the trip would be impossible.
There are a variety of ways to fast but ultimately the purpose is to deny your body the pleasure of food (or certain foods) and items that may distract you from praying. It does not move God, but it does move you from a place of unbelief to belief.Once you’ve started fasting, it doesn’t take long and questions begin to pop up. Here are some questions I’ve been asked:
1. Why is it so hard to pray when I’m fasting?
It is common the first few days of a fast to find it a struggle to pray. But once the fast is underway you will find that the hunger for prayer gets stronger. The first few days, your body will be adjusting to the denial of food and other pleasures. Typically, by day 3, your body adjusts and it gets easier to devote your time to prayer and meditation.
The other factor is the spiritual battle going on. Your enemy, Satan, trembles when he sees you fasting as he knows this will increase your spiritual strength and enable you to push back his negative influence. However, by standing firm on the Scriptures and speaking the name of Jesus, he retreats.
2. What do I do when I’m served a meal that would go against my fast?
I don’t want to be rude and not eat it but I want to honor God too.
If you are fasting while carrying out your regular routine this will come up. First try and schedule your day and meetings around your fast. If you know you are meeting someone, plan not to have it based around a meal. For those times when you are in a situation and are served certain foods, I suggest you politely decline with as little explanation as possible. What you want to avoid is drawing attention to the fact that you are fasting. If they insist you eat, share with them that you are on a fast. This may open up an opportunity to share your faith.
3. When should I tell others that I’m fasting and when do I keep it to myself? Can I tell my spouse/children etc.?
The Bible mentions a number of fasts where the leaders called for a corporate fast. In this situation obviously it is public, but even so in the work place, or with certain friends, you will want to be discreet about sharing it. The idea is to consecrate yourself to God during this time and focus your attention on Him, rather than drawing attention to yourself.
A fast is a spiritual exercise meant to move you to a consecrated place of prayer for a breakthrough.If you are doing a private fast, keep it as private as possible. It great to share it with your spouse and children if they are believers and understand the concept of fasting. An exception to sharing with your family is if you are fasting for a breakthrough in one of their lives. For example, if you have a child who is rebelling against God and you have done all you can, a private fast is a powerful weapon against the enemy, since he is after their faith.
4. What if I forget to pray? Does my fast still “work”?
If in the busyness of your day you forget to pray while on your fast, God will still honor your consecration and faith. However, when you are fasting it is unlikely you will forget to pray for long because your flesh will be insisting you eat. This hunger is an alarm reminding you to pray because you desire the answer to prayer more than you do food or a certain pleasure.
5. What’s the difference between a fast and a cleanse?
In this context, a fast is a spiritual exercise meant to move you to a consecrated place of prayer for a breakthrough. It is not a physical cleanse, although it may have that side benefit. A spiritual fast is a not a diet, not a hunger strike against God or a way to somehow earn favor with God.
6. Why does it feel like there is more opposition while I’m fasting? Is this normal? How do I deal with this?
You will feel opposition from the powers of darkness when you fast. When Jesus had been fasting we read that Satan came to tempt Him. The temptation started with “If you are the Son of God…” It was a blatant attack on His identity. Don’t be surprised if you have a similar attack against your sense of identity and security. In these moments respond as Jesus did. He responded with “It is written…”. As you speak the Word of God and use the powerful name of Jesus, the opposition will leave. This may take some persistence. Don’t be discouraged since Jesus needed to address Satan three times before he fled. We are not above our Master, if He persisted so must we.
7. How can I include my children in a corporate fast? How do I explain it to them?
This is a great opportunity to train your children. First explain to them, with anticipation, the vision of the fast and what the outcome will be. Let them know how they will benefit from it. They, like you, need to see that the outcome is worth more than a momentary pleasure of some food or other pleasure. It is important that you don’t overdo it, keep it within a reasonable amount of food denial. For example if you are fasting meats and sweets make sure they have other foods that fulfill their dietary needs. If fasting television or social media, be prepared to give them healthy alternatives to keep their minds active. Most importantly take time for daily prayer and reviewing God’s promises.
8. Can I fast for my own personal needs as well as the corporate needs?
Yes, this is a good time to include your personal challenges or difficulties. If possible share the personal victories you are believing for with some close family or friends. They will celebrate with you when the breakthrough comes.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus stated “when you pray” and “when you give” and “when you fast”. He did not say “if” but “when”. He assumes this to be a spiritual practice of believers. As you step out in faith and practice prayer and fasting you will not only find a breakthrough for your problems but more importantly you will find your relationship with God more intimate, and the desire to give intensify.