"I had never fasted before...."
Thats how a lot of amazing stories I hear from people start. I teach on fasting a lot, because of how powerful it's been in my life. In fact I can't think of any other biblical way to crucify the flesh than fasting. Quite literally.
So what is the biblical definition of fasting? Skipping food we enjoy out of respect for God. This includes the total fast eating and drinking absolutely nothing, or the water only fast where drinking water is allowed, or the meats and sweets fast listed in the Book of Daniel where he only ate vegetables and bland foods. This last one is particularly good for diabetics or folks who may have issues with not eating at all. Consult your doctor. In these cases not eating, combined with a nutritional drink may be appropriate.
They fasted in the Old Testament, and the New Testament. They fasted privately, and corporately together in a group. You can find corporate fasts in the Book of Esther, or the book of Acts, where they would publicly call a fast. Jesus fasted, Paul fasted, Paul wrote that husbands and wives should separate themselves sexually for a time of fasting and prayer. From the beginning of the Book to the end of the Book fasting was a major portion of a relationship with God.
Why did they fast? Out of repentance sometimes, out of wanting God to act in their circumstances sometimes, out of asking for directions before laying on of hands for leadership, there were certainly many different reasons people did fasting in the Bible. And each time God would react, and provide what his people needed.
Daniel chapter 10 and Isaiah 58 provide fascinating studies on fasting. Daniel 10 reveals how the spirit world reacts to fasting, angels and demons at War because Daniel was fasting. Isaiah 58 says that God will cause light to arise in the darkness, that He'll guide you continually, these are the kinds of things I'm expecting when I'm fasting.
While fasting maybe corporate together as a body of Believers, it's not something we brag about, or complain about. Matthew 6:16 warns against doing it to be seen by people. You're doing it to be seen by God. However it's wonderful to share stories about what happens to you when you're fasting, among the body of Believers you're fasting with. Sometimes it's these stories, combined with the scriptural truth, that causes others around you to begin to participate in the discipline of fasting.
There are many other things you can fast from as well. Facebook, social media, TV, tobacco, drugs, I've gone on all these kinds of fasts in my life as well. But the only scriptural and biblical meaning of fasting is abstaining from food.
I encourage you to apply the Bible to your life in this area, and to share your story with me after it happens. I've never known someone to involve themselves in the discipline of fasting without having an awesome story of what happened as a result. Want to hear more from the Father? Shut down the flesh and you will!
James Disciple Johnson
Natl President and Founder
Disciple Christian Motorcycle Club