Twelve Reasons to Fast
1. To humble self so God can use me. In fasting we attempt to bring ourselves to a humble state so God can make us holy, so we will be willing to seek Him, able to minister to Him, honor Him, and do His will (e.g. Ezra 8:21).
2. To express grief and repentance for sin, and for deliverance. If we fast to express repentance, it will also be for deliverance. When Ninevah fasted they did turn from their evil way, but their main purpose was to avert God’s wrath. And that is just what happened. “…God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them…” (Jonah 3:10).
We in America also need to repent with fasting because of our evil (e. g. materialism, sensuality, pornography, and abortion), in order to avert God’s wrath. It may soon be coming!
Fasting may also be to deliver us from harm, not because of our own sin but because of those around us who have sinned and who want to harm us. Such was the case with Israel under Jehoshaphat, and also under Queen Esther. Both times Israel was faced with annihilation, and both times, as they fasted, God delivered them (2 Chron. 20; Esther 4:3, 16; 9:5)
For whatever kind of deliverance you seek, for yourself or for another, you may obtain it through repentance and with prayer and fasting. As Arthur Wallis writes in his book, God’s Chosen Fast, “Fasting is a powerful auxiliary weapon, appointed by God, to break the enemy’s hold…a fast undertaken at God’s direction will strengthen the intercessor to maintain pressure until the enemy is compelled to loosen his grasp of the captive.”
3. To meet the needs of others and to make your ministry effective. God tells us in Isaiah 58:5-12 that the fast He has chosen for us is to help the hungry and the afflicted (vv. 6, 10), to loose those with bonds of wickedness, and to undo their heavy burdens (v. 6). Hence fasting is not just to help us; it is to help others and to empower our prayers for them.
And if God has called you to a certain ministry, consider if He wants you to fast over it—to consecrate it in order to make your work effective. Such was the case with Jesus’ ministry (Matt. 4:2) and also with the missionary journeys of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:2).
4. To make me spiritually stronger and able to overcome sexual temptation. Those who are in bondage to the taste of food and have not disciplined their bodies (e. g. with regular fasting) will have little power over temptation. Wallis writes, “The connection between overeating and the stimulation of sex desires is common knowledge. The sin of Sodom…was linked with ‘surfeit of food.’” But fasting can help us to overcome temptation. For as we detach ourselves from food and other earthly things we gain heavenly things, especially the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome temptation.
5. For guidance, help, and safety. Ezra is a good example here. For prior to leading a large group of people (over 8,000) back from Babylon to the land of Israel, realizing that they certainly would be under attack from bandits along the roadside, Ezra gathered them together beside the river of Ahava and proclaimed a fast. There they prayed for protection; and, as it happened, God did protect them (Ezra 8:21-31).
Likewise, God also delivered all of Israel out of certain destruction when their King, King Jehoshaphat led them to fast. And they cried out to God saying “…We have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You” (2 Chron. 20:12).
Let us also turn to God in fasting when we are in any trouble; and let us be confident that He will guide us, help us, and protect us.
6. To receive spiritual revelation. Certainly one of the greatest in the Old Testament to receive visions from God was Daniel—the one who was then probably the most known for fasting. In the New Testament we can look at Paul as probably our best example of one who fasted. And He also received revelations. Therefore, by these two great examples, and also by the records of many other prophets, we can be certain that fasting heightens our spiritual understanding and helps us know the deep things of God.
7. To express love and devotion to God. When prayer becomes so precious, so important, that we are willing to skip our meals, then we can say that the reason we fast is because we have fallen in love with God and are devoted to Him. Moreover, when we discover that fasting helps us to focus our attention on God in prayer and that it makes prayer more precious, we will continue in fasting all the more. Such I suppose was the case with Anna, who served God with fasting night and day (Lu. 2:37).
8. To help me pray with more earnestness and zeal. If fasting helps prayers to be more precious, certainly it will also help me to pray with more earnestness and zeal. Duewel, in his book, Mighty Prevailing Prayer writes: “As fasting feeds our faith, solidifies our determination, and opens us to the Spirit’s inner working, it fires us with increased earnestness and zeal. Shortly after Jesus’ forty-day fast we see Him burning with zeal for God’s will in God’s house (Jn. 2:17). Fasting kindles all kinds of holy earnestness and zeal—to give oneself totally to and for God, to pray until we prevail…”
9. To obtain answers to prayer. God speaks to us from Jeremiah 29:13, saying, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for me with all your heart.” When we fast we are demonstrating to God (and we are assuring ourselves) that we are seeking Him with all our heart. Hence our fasting becomes the means of obtaining the promise—that we will find Him; also that He will give us what we ask for (Matt. 7:7).
10. To make the body my servant so that God can use me. God can’t use you in His service if you are in bondage to food, that is, if you can’t seem to ever say no to a second helping of your favorite dish. For if you are in bondage to food, you are no doubt in bondage to other things. If this is the case with you, you really don’t care for the things of God; you care more about satisfying your own bodily cravings. But if you can discipline your food lust—and that we must do, for we are not to be enslaved to anything (1 Cor. 6:12)—then you are well on your way to controlling your whole body. Fasting will help you to control all your bodily appetites. Then God can use you mightily for His service. The type of fast I suggest for disciplining the body is a regular-partial fast.
11. For health and healing so God can use me. God can’t use you for His service if you are sick and in poor health. Fasting will naturally rid the body of toxins, cleanse the blood, rebuild the immune system, and help to fight off illness. For health and healing I suggest a juice fast. But use only fresh juices (I suggest making your own juice. A juicer will be a good investment). Fresh lemon, apple, beet, cabbage, carrot, celery, grape, and green vegetable juices are all good. Stay away from orange or tomato juice when you are fasting, and always dilute your juices with steam-distilled water, one part water to three parts juice.
12. To Prepare for Jesus’ return. Jesus is our bridegroom and we are His bride. Soon He will be coming to get us. We need to be ready for Him. Fasting will help us to remain pure and to keep our eyes focused on Him.