Fasting is simply a Biblical principle where one abstains from food in order to draw closer to God. There are many misconceptions about fasting that have unfortunately turned into wrong motivations for doing it, so let me clear some of those up right off the bat. Fasting is not dieting. Fasting is not something you do so that other people will think you are more spiritual (Matthew 6:18). Fasting is not something you do so that God will justify you (Luke 18:9-14). You do not fast in order to be commended to God (1 Corinthians 8:8). Fasting does not allow you to earn anything at all from God.
When any of these misconceptions become the motivations for fasting, nothing at all is gained spiritually, and one can be left wondering how fasting is even relevant to their Christian life today. It is entirely possible to do a whole fast and not do it for the right reasons, so let me share some right motivations for fasting so that you can see just how relevant fasting can be to your spiritual health and walk with God.
Fasting in its essence, is a discipline of the Christian to direct their spiritual hunger.
Right motivations for fasting: You fast to demonstrate your love and desire for God above everything else. You fast to get clarity from God. You fast to receive specific direction from God for your life. You fast to gain spiritual strength against the enemy’s attacks on your life. You fast to show and express an ache for the return of Jesus. You fast in order to position yourself to be more receptive to what God wants to speak to you and do through you. Fasting in its essence, is a discipline of the Christian to direct their spiritual hunger.
Hunger is a crazy thing. Everyone has it. No one has to try and become hungry and no one has to remind themselves when they are hungry. You don’t need to set an alarm or a reminder to tell yourself that you need to eat, and you don’t need anyone else to come tell you either; it just happens. Our bodies let us know when it’s time to consume. There is this hormone in our bodies called ghrelin. It’s basically known as the “hunger hormone.” You know when your stomach growls (sometimes in embarrassing settings) and you have no control over it? You have ghrelin to thank for that; it’s saying “feed me!”
Can I tell you that as a follower of Jesus, you have a spiritual hunger inside of you, and it is so critical that in seasons, through fasting, you direct your spiritual hunger.
In 2 Kings 6, the Bible tells us that there was a great famine in the city of Samaria as the result of being sieged by the King of Aram. The siege lasted so long that the people of Samaria become starving. They were so starving and desperate that a donkey’s head ended up selling for eighty pieces of silver, and a cup of dove’s dung sold for five pieces of silver. They would eat these things. So gross. The people were paying a high price to eat things that they would have never imagined consuming before because they were so hungry. Can I tell you that as a follower of Jesus, you have a spiritual hunger inside of you, and it is so critical that in seasons, through fasting, you direct your spiritual hunger. If you do not discipline your spiritual hunger, substitutions can take place and you may end up consuming things that you never imagined consuming before and paying a high price for it. By fasting, you are not letting your hunger direct you, but you are directing your hunger to a complete dependence on God.
Psalm 69:10 says, “I wept and chastened my soul with fasting.” Fasting is a chastening of your soul so that your hunger drives you to Him and Him alone. The hunger pains, the ghrelin, and the stomach growls remind you that HE is whom you need to seek. And when you seek Him in those moments, in your desperation and with distractions and substitutions gone, He is clearer. He is more in focus. He becomes what you cling to.
There are many different types of fasts that people do today that do not involve abstaining food such as a social media fast, fasting TV, fasting of sweets, etc. Only you can decide for yourself what would truly cause you to be “hungry” if you did not have it, but whether you are one that chooses to fast food for a period of time, or something else that has your attention in your life, I encourage you to try fasting as a spiritual discipline and watch God’s voice become clearer and more focused in your life.