We live in a generation where many Christians are reluctant to fast and many argue that fasting is optional for Christians.
While fasting should be done out of free will,our Lord Jesus Christ clearly expected that His followers would be fasting.
"Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward."Matthew 6:16.
This verse is an instruction from Jesus to His followers of how fasting should be done.
Jesus didn't say," IF YOU FAST" but rather He said,"WHEN YOU FAST" a clear indication that He expected His followers to fast.
When the pharisees and John's disciples asked Jesus why His disciples didn't fast, Jesus said a time would come when they would fast.
"The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting. Then they came and said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?”
And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and THEN THEY WILL FAST IN THOSE DAYS." Mark 2:18-20
Jesus was saying His disciples would fast after He was taken away from them.
He didn't give a direct command to them to pray and fast,however,from scripture we can tell He clearly expected His disciples to regularly fast.
And the apostles and all the early church knew why fasting was important and DID fast.
In Acts 13:2 "while they were worshipping The Lord and FASTING, the Holy Spirit said set aside Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them."
Acts 14:23" Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and with PRAYER AND FASTING, committed them to the Lord in whom they had put their trust."
These are examples showing fasting was a lifestyle for the apostles and the early church.
Jesus Himself who came to be our example fasted.
The bible says Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights before beginning His ministry.(Matthew 4:1-11)
The bible teaches us to pray and fast, and from my personal experience with prayer and fasting, I have found it to be a very powerful tool for spiritual warfare, for quickening breakthrough, and for spiritual growth.
It is something I would encourage every Christian who wants to advance spiritually to do on a regular basis.
Biblical fasting is abstaining from food and water,or food only,for a specific period of time,and using that time to pray.
If you stay away from food but don't pray,and instead spend your time on social media, that's not prayer and fasting.
Food and water and our time is substituted for spending time in God's presence.
If you are fasting while at school or work,that's still okay,God knows you have no choice, but still you must ensure you spend meaningful time praying and reading the bible. You can use your lunch break for example and you can meditate on God's word and use any free time to stay connected with God.
If you fast on a day you are not at work,I recommend locking yourself in a room and literally spending all your time reading the bible, praying, worshipping, and waiting on the Lord.
This is really powerful.
Often, when I have done fasting this way,spending the whole day in His presence,I don't even feel hungry compared to when am fasting and still do other stuff like work!
If your prayer life is no longer on fire,you need to pray and fast to get that fire back.
If you are struggling with sin,and its so hard for you to live a holy life,you need to fast.
If you need breakthrough and its taking so long,fasting quickly opens doors of victory.
Read these verses of how fasting brought victory in the bible.
Esther and all the Jews fasted 3 days and 3 nights,and God made their enemy to be hanged on his own gallows!( read Esther chapter 3 to chapter 7)
Nehemiah fasted and prayed for Jerusalem and God had the city rebuilt! (Read Nehemiah chapter 1&2).
When 3 nations came to fight against Judah,and King Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast,and God made their enemies to fight each other,giving Jehoshaphat and his people great victory without a fight!(read 2 chronicles 20:1-30).
There's so much power and so much victory in prayer and fasting and its a powerful weapon Christians should use.
Whether you want greater intimacy with God,or you are seeking breakthrough, fasting is a powerful weapon.
Because you cut off all distractions and focus on God.
Many Christians are struggling with sin simply because they cannot fast therefore they remain lukewarm.
Your Christianity can't be on fire without fasting.
Fasting will empower you to do things you Would otherwise be too weak to do.
You don't necessarily have to fast to enter heaven,but fasting is necessary for you to get the strength you need on your Christian journey.
Jesus said some demons can't be cast out except by prayer and fasting.(Matthew 17:21)
Fasting increases the anointing on your life,empowering you to do more for God's Kingdom here on earth.
For example many Christians are lukewarm due to lack of prayer and fasting, such that they can't even pray for the sick or cast a demon out,but if a person who has been spending time in prayer and fasting prays for the sick,oppressed,and demon possessed,they are set free.
Fasting also increases your power to overcome.
If you never fast and pray,your ability to stand in the face of temptation is much lower than someone who regularly fasts.
For fasting to be beneficial, it must be done secretly.
The bible teaches that we should not make it obvious that we are fasting and we must not want everyone to know, but we must do it secretly and God ll reward us openly.
If you want an intimate relationship with God fasting really helps because whenever you cut off the world and connect to God,your love for God increases and you will gain ability to pray much more.
If you struggle to pray, I would urge you to do even a one day fast; meaning when you have dinner the previous day,you don't eat till 6pm and instead spend that time praying.
Fasting can be done for a few hours,or for days.
Its all up to you.
If you are doing a one day fast,the dinner you eat the previous day is your last meal till 6pm on the day of your fast.
If you like,you can fast 2 days or 3 days.
When you are fasting for several days,like 2,3, or more,you can even spend nights on a mat on the floor instead of your bed.
Because a mat is uncomfortable, it makes it easier for you to wakeup in the night and continue praying while you are fasting. This is all a choice of how you want to fast.
You can also start fasting by skipping a meal and praying instead if you ve never fasted and are just learning to.
Its also important to cut off TV,social media and all manner of entertainment to maximize the effectiveness of the fast.
Remember that when you are in God's presence,you are there to remove every obstacle that God can fill you with Himself instead.
I urge every Christian to try fasting, and to live a fasted life if you want to see more of God in your life.