Since growing closer to Christ, I have embarked on the journey of fasting quite often. Although not as popular in our culture these days, fasting – along with praying – is certainly a powerful tool that draws you closer to God, makes you more sensitive to His will in your life, prepares you for a special work of the Lord, and assists in overcoming any strongholds, any besetting sin, or any sources of pain, opposition, and struggle that seek to overpower your abundant life in Christ. God can really use a time of fasting to plant seeds in your life that will eventually bear abundant fruit! Fasting is also a way to express your commitment to God in a new way, or to pray about something in specific – and be in a position to hear Him speak to you. Spiritual warfare is very real, and the Bible talks about arming ourselves and equipping ourselves for spiritual battle. Combining our praying with fasting is one sure way to do this.
I find it interesting (though not surprising) that Satan loves to attack us more when we commit to God in this way. He understands the power of commitment, sacrifice, and selflessness through fasting. A few minutes of review in the scripture passage of Matthew 4:1-11 will confirm this. Even Jesus was tempted by the enemy during his time of fasting as he prepared for ministry. Fasting opens up a new realm of spiritual enlightenment and discernment because we are denying our flesh in extreme ways and yielding to the Spirit. We are denying our need for food and replacing it with the need for the nourishment found in God’s Word – which is more important (Job 23:10-12, Matthew 4:4). When Satan came to tempt Jesus after his time of fasting, He countered all of Satan’s attacks and temptations with the Word of God. Which is why during fasting, we need to commit to not just abstaining from something in particular; we need to also commit to increasing our time in the Word of God.
In writing this blog post, I am also reminded of the virtue and fearlessness of Esther who saved an entire population with her courage and boldness. Before doing so – before stepping out and taking a risk for God and His glory – she fasted and prayed for three (3) days. She also gathered together all of the Jews and encouraged them to join her. She knew the importance of consecrating herself and preparing herself for a mighty work of the Lord (Esther 4:16). Her faith, fearlessness, and reverence for God is worth noting. (So ladies, take note!) Amazingly enough, God had me studying the book of Esther during the fasting time that I speak about in this blog post. Each time I study the book of Esther, I find something new and empowering. I will feature Esther in my Women of Faith Blog Series and go more in depth as it relates to her story, but she certainly deserves a mention in this blog post!
I recently went on a fast where both my food intake and my time on social media was restricted. Sometimes, you just need to step away from all of the noise to hear from God and allow Him to give you direction as it relates to your purpose, your ministry, your career, and/or your personal life. I had specific reasons for committing to this fast, and I prayed about them throughout the fast. I also replaced my need for food with increased spiritual nourishment in Christ through His Word. In addition, I was led to journal each day during my fast to chronicle what the Lord was doing in me.
I made a decision to fast for seven (7) days. The first two days were amazing, and God had already begun to reveal certain things to me in those two days as I stayed in His Word and as I continued to journal my thoughts. Two days into the fast (that evening), the enemy came for my thoughts and my mind. The enemy loves to fill our thoughts with lies to distract us or instill fear in us, but we must replace his lies with the Word of God. His only purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy, and he was trying to deter me from the purpose that God had in me fasting in this particular moment. As a result, and through the instruction of the Holy Spirit, I decided that I would step up my commitment and commit to three days of no food or liquid, just water – within the seven days of fasting that I had previously committed to. Some feat, huh? You bet.
I have fasted many times before, but I had never fasted with just water for nourishment – for any length of time. So this was totally a God thing. I yearned for God and His presence to carry me through this fast. I prayed for Him to sustain me when I felt weak and had no energy. I believe that the Spirit led me to do this because He knew that as a lover of food, three days with no food would be difficult for me. He knew that I could only be successful in this with His help. This act of faith also told the enemy that he had no power here, and that my commitment to God would not be denied just because he sought to thwart it.
But wow – can I tell you about the goodness and grace of God in fasting?! Can I?! You grow so much closer to God, and He reveals so much to you when you ask – and when you seek Him with your whole heart. He gives you the strength and the power to overcome the urge to eat food for nourishment, and in doing so, He actively begins working on your behalf in everything that concerns you. He also may reveal to you certain areas that need strengthening in your spiritual walk. He may reveal certain areas that need growth, and certain areas that you have yet to surrender to Him so that He can heal you and make you whole. Our journeys in Christ are always a process, and our Father God will never be complete with His work in us while we are on this earth. We will always have something to work on, and something to aim towards. We will be made completely perfect only when we see Jesus face-to-face. But this is another benefit to fasting. As God is always working in us and doing something new in us, He may desire to reveal something to you and help you connect the dots on something…something that you may not become privy to unless you commit to a time of fasting with Him. He did all of those things for me (everything that I mentioned above) during this particular fast.
By obeying His unction to fast for a specific period of time without food at all, God desired to reveal something to me that He had never revealed to me before. And I am so glad that I heeded to the Spirit’s unction. He connected the dots on something in my life that I had never been able to connect on my own before; something that affected my relationship with Him. And it was the catalyst for a powerful breakthrough within that same month. I was so amazed. But I also wondered: Why hadn’t He revealed this to me years ago? Why did He have to wait until now? But God has a purpose, a plan, and a reason for everything – even as it relates to His timing. Which is always perfect.
As the three (3)-day fast within the seven (7)-day fast came to a close, I rejoiced in His glory. His power and grace alone is what enabled me to be successful in this. But then, He hit me with a harsh truth not long after the victorious fast where I grew even closer to Him. He decided to hit me with it after a victory to let me know who He was – and that He was the source of my healing. What He chose to reveal to me during a fast was that I had an unhealthy relationship with food, and it was damaging to my relationship with Christ. It was the source of many unhealthy habits that I had adopted along my journey.
As women, we oftentimes use food to comfort us when God should be the one comforting us. What is even more disheartening is that our society loves to portray women as beings who seek food (usually ice cream and chocolate!) as a solution when life throws something at them that is difficult to cope with, bear, or endure. “Just eat a box of chocolates; spend a night on the sofa with a chic flick and a tub of ice cream; eat an entire bag of chips to take the pain, distress, or heartache away.” No, love. We must allow Jesus to take the pain away. We must allow Jesus to heal our broken hearts. God showed me that my love for junk food, snacks, and just good food in general was actually linked to an area of my life that I hadn’t fully surrendered to God. And it worsened after another traumatic experience in my adult life. In my mind, I was eating because I needed to. I was eating junk food because I craved something sweet or different. But He revealed to me that this was not the case. And, sometimes (this hurts to say), I would binge eat. I would eat when I wasn’t hungry. I would continue to eat when I was full, because I had been programmed to believe that if food is in front of you, you eat it. (If the food is the Word of God, then yes. All day.) All of these things that the enemy tells us to keep us from growing in God.
I am now consciously aware of an area of my life that has been hindering my walk with the Lord. How gracious and wonderful our Father God is. It’s amazing and encouraging to know that God would bring this back around, as a few of my blog posts earlier this year (January and February) focused on my desire to live and eat healthier. Check them out! In many ways, I’ve improved, but I still have a long way to go. Hiding my unhealthy relationship with food by saying that I was a foodie, that I was a lover of food, that I wasn’t overweight, so I was good….it’s not going to work anymore. Although there is some truth to these statements, they are not truer than how God desires for me to live. Yes, we need food for nourishment. This is honorable to God. But how are we reflecting Christ in our walk by being in denial – and by indulging, overeating, and masking our pain with food?
Gluttony is sin. It’s uncomfortable to talk about these things…it’s uncomfortable to talk about these sins. Because we tend to overlook these sins. But I surrender my life so that someone else can be healed: Food will not heal you or comfort you. It simply covers up the pain, only for it to resurface again. I want you to know that Jesus can heal all of your hurt and pain if you let Him. I want someone to know what the power of fasting can reveal to you. I don’t tell you any of this to boast in myself. I tell you this to boast in my God, and in my Savior Jesus. I tell you this to encourage you to seek God with your whole life; with your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. Be truly committed to Him.
Fasting is a very integral part of our spiritual growth. Vow to commit to God in fasting, prayer, and in devotion in His Word. And be expectant as to what He may reveal. He may reveal something completely different to you. Your commitment to fasting can be one day a month. Or one day a week. A few hours (or a block of time) in the busiest part of your day. Whatever you feel God is leading you to do, God will honor your commitment and your sacrifice.
As the enemy’s schemes will become more intense in these last days, I feel that this post is right on time. God is using fasting and prayer to really get His children right before Him; to sanctify, purify, and consecrate them – and equip them for the work that He has called them to do. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through the pulling down of strongholds. Fasting is a fierce spiritual weapon.
As you seek God about fasting, there are some things about fasting that I want you to know:
- Be led by God. Don’t try to tackle a particular kind of fast just because someone else did. Three days without food or liquid may not work for you. However, if God is leading you to do it, He will give you the strength to do it! I am a witness! With that said, there are several types of fasting.
A few examples: The Total Fast (no food or water for 3 days), Regular Fast (abstaining from all food and liquid except for water for a period of time – what I did!), The Daniel Fast or Partial Fast (where you abstain from specific foods and activities for a specific period of time), and more.
The period of time: Full day (or specific blocks of time during the day), 3-Day, 7-Day, 14-Day, 21-Day, and even 40-Day fasts where you cut out something in specific and surrender it to God as you pray, seek Him more, and study His Word.
What God cares about most is your heart and devotion, not the type of fast you choose or how you choose to do it. If God is leading you to do it, do it!
- Fasting is a time to go deeper in our relationship with God. Resist the temptation to replace your lack of food with something that will not assist in your spiritual growth (i.e. television, internet, social media). Use this time to really pray and get into your Word. If we don’t maintain a spiritual purpose for our time of fasting, it will become nothing more than a diet. And we don’t need diets! We need change and transformation!
- We never fast to be seen by others for our religious works. I never inform others when I am fasting unless it is for accountability purposes or to be considerate (i.e. If they ask me out to dinner, coffee, etc.) I am informing you, the reader, after a recent fast because God has led me to exhort you in this spiritual pursuit!
Fasting is personal and spiritual – it’s between you and God.
During a recent fast, only one person knew that I was fasting. And they lifted me in prayer (And I’m very thankful for this person; they also assisted with some of the content in this blog post!) I only disclosed it to one other person near the end of my fast because they had invited me to dine with them, and I wanted them to know my reasons for declining. But usually, no one knows when I am fasting.
- Don’t fast for material blessings. Fast for a breakthrough in your walk with Him. Fast for a spiritual blessing to manifest itself in your life. Fast for healing and deliverance. Fast for someone else’s healing and deliverance as an act of love and selflessness. We don’t need to worry about blessings. If we seek first the Kingdom of God, all things will be added unto us.
- If God is not leading you to fast at this particular time in your life, this is okay. Continue to pray and seek Him about it, and search the scriptures to see how powerful fasting truly is. Sometimes, God may not lead us to fast. He may in fact be waiting on us to make the choice – a choice that will significantly alter and deepen our spiritual relationship with Him.
Scriptures on fasting (there are many, but I’ll note a few!):
Matthew 4:1-11; Nehemiah 1:4; Daniel 9:3; Mark 9:29; Esther 4:16; Joel 1:14; Luke 2:37; Matthew 6:1-18; Matthew 9:14-15; Psalm 35:13; 1 Kings 21:27-29; Ezra 8:21; Psalm 69:10; Nehemiah 9:1-3; Joel 2:12-15
I love you! And as your sister in Christ, I want to see you strengthened in Christ. I want to see us all strengthened in Christ. I want to see you whole. I want to see us all whole. Again, fasting is a very powerful tool for sanctification and purification in our lives. As the Word says, the enemy is fierce in his attacks – and some things need a little fasting and prayer put on it! Your faith has made you whole. Now, let’s put some work to it. Continue to strengthen your faith in God. Seek His face, and trust that He will indeed make you whole. In all things, and in every area of your life.
Soli Deo Gloria,
About Me: I am a daughter of God and a servant of Christ who loves to support, edify, encourage, and strengthen her brothers and sisters in Christ with the truth of God’s Word. I am an educator, a freelance writer and editor, a servant leader involved in several local ministries and organizations, and an author of the book Happily Ever After: Biblical Womanhood, The Pursuit of Christ….and Marriage which focuses on the importance of living a life that is Christ-centered – in every area of our lives. You can follow me on Facebook (Porsche R. Armstrong) and Twitter (@TheRealPorsche). You can also follow my blog and ministry by subscribing at loveisalifestyle.org.
Great News! My new book is expected to be released in late 2015! More details forthcoming! And in more news, #LoveLetters will be launching soon! Stay tuned with more information! God Bless You!