Have you heard of the spiritual discipline of fasting but are unsure why you should consider this practice? Do you get the sense from others that it is a positive activity in their lives? Do you imagine fasting being about deprivation and suffering and wonder what people get out of it?
On the surface, fasting can sound unpleasant and difficult, but also intriguing. You may wonder if you’re strong enough to do it, but are interested in trying it so you can see what others like about it. And, you may be wondering what benefits you will receive through this discipline.
Fasting is an important spiritual activity. It is mentioned many times in the Bible.
- Fasting Helps You Draw Closer to God
- Fasting Helps You Humble Yourself before God
- Fasting Helps You Resist Temptation and Grow in Self-Control
- Fasting Helps You Pray and Seek God's Guidance
- Fasting Helps You Show Solidarity with Others
1. Fasting Helps You Draw Closer to God
By fasting and seeking God in private, you can draw closer to Him and strengthen your relationship with the Lord.
Jesus said that when we fast, we should "anoint our head and wash our face, that our fasting may not be seen by others but by our Father who is in secret.”
2. Fasting Helps You Humble Yourself Before God
When you fast, you receive reminders of your dependence on God and your need for His help and guidance.
In the Old Testament, we see that people often fasted as a way to show humility and repentance before God.
For example, when Jonah prophesied to the city of Nineveh that they would be destroyed if they continue pursuing wickedness, everyone fasted and turned their hearts to God.
3. Fasting Helps You Resist Temptation and Grow in Self-Control
By denying yourself food and other physical comforts, you can learn to rely on God's strength and resist the temptation to give in to your own desires.
Jesus was the ultimate example of this when he denied himself food for forty days and nights amid relentless temptation.
To fulfill his mission of dying on the cross for our sins, Jesus needed to have strength to resist the temptation to meet his physical desires.
4. Fasting Helps You Pray and Seek God's Guidance
By fasting, you can set aside distractions and focus more fully on seeking God's will and direction for your life.
In the Bible, we see that people often fasted and prayed together in times of crisis or when seeking God's guidance.
For example, when the early church leaders were trying to choose additional leaders, they fasted and prayed until the Holy Spirit provided the direction they needed.
5. Fasting Helps You Show Solidarity with Others
By fasting, you can show your support and concern for others and pray for their needs.
In biblical times people sometimes fasted to show their unification with others who were suffering or in need.
For example, when Nehemiah heard that a group of Israelites were suffering and in need of help, he wept, fasted, and prayed for them.
Where to Go From Here
Overall, fasting is an important spiritual discipline that can help you draw closer to God, humble yourself before Him, resist temptation, seek His guidance, and show solidarity with others.
By fasting and praying, you can grow in our relationship with God and become more obedient to His will.
Learn more about fasting with our 5-Step Guide to Fasting and Praying with Intention.
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