The Power and Purpose of Fasting

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Fasting is a powerful spiritual discipline that has been practiced for thousands of years, yet it remains widely misunderstood today. As we approach the Lenten season, what better time to explore the true biblical purpose of fasting and how it can transform our lives? 

In this Lenten journey, we will examine what Scripture teaches about fasting, address common misconceptions, and provide practical guidance for observing a 40-day fast. My goal is to lead you into a deeper encounter with Jesus Christ through this ancient spiritual practice. Are you ready to answer the call to fast?

Defining Biblical Fasting

First, let’s define what fasting actually is according to the Bible. At its core, biblical fasting means voluntarily abstaining from food for a period of time. It’s accompanied by focused prayer and seeking after God. 

Fasting is not simply “going without food.” It’s intentionally setting aside earthly nourishment to pursue spiritual nourishment. Your physical hunger becomes a reminder to hunger and thirst for God alone. 

This is why fasting troubles like social media, Netflix, or profanity don’t qualify as biblical fasting. These disciplinary issues are good to address, but fasting in Scripture always relates to food.

Fasting is not a way to twist God’s arm or release Him to answer our prayers. We don’t fast to get something from God, but to realign our hearts to seek Him above all else. As Pastor Mike says, “You cannot manipulate God by going on a hunger strike.” 

When we fast with the right motives, however, drawing nearer to God can lead to breakthroughs in our lives. But the blessings are not an end in themselves. Jesus Christ is the ultimate gift and prize.

Fasting in the Bible

Both the Old and New Testaments provide examples of fasting. Moses fasted for 40 days on Mount Sinai as he communed with God and received the 10 Commandments (Exodus 34:28). The prophet Daniel fasted for 21 days as he sought God for revelation (Daniel 10:2-3). 

In the New Testament, Jesus fasted 40 days in the wilderness before launching His earthly ministry (Matthew 4:2). He taught that fasting should be done discreetly, with humility and sincerity of heart (Matthew 6:16-18). The early church fasted for guidance and discernment (Acts 13:2-3).

The biblical pattern is clear: Fasting is a vital spiritual discipline for seeking God, positioning our hearts to hear from Him, and yielding to His will in our lives. It’s less about “giving something up” and more about replacing physical appetite with spiritual appetite.

Common Misconceptions 

Fasting is not simply about eliminating food. The disposition of our spirit matters most. You can fast completely from food yet approach it with pride, anger, or wrong motives. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for appearing to fast righteously while their hearts remained far from God (Luke 18:9-14).

Fasting doesn’t obligate God to answer our prayers. It positions us to receive from God by aligning our hearts with His. We fast to commune with Christ, not to control Him. Don’t view fasting as a hunger strike to force God’s hand.

Fasting isn’t just for spiritual giants. You may worry that taking an extended fast is only for ministry leaders and biblical figures, but this discipline is for every believer! Start where you are. God will lead you as you seek Him.

The 40-Day Lenten Fast

The traditional Lenten fast is 40 days, reflecting the fasts of Moses, Elijah (1 Kings 19:8) and Jesus. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. 

How can you observe a meaningful, sustainable 40-day fast? Consider these tips:

  • Gradually decrease meals. Start by eliminating one meal per day, then progress to two meals per day. Finish the fast eating just one meal per day.
  • Try a Daniel Fast of vegetables, fruits, water, and other healthy foods. Avoid meats, sweets, and processed items. 
  • Drink lots of water and mineral-rich beverages to stay hydrated.
  • Build up to longer fasts safely based on your health needs. Consult a doctor if needed.
  • Join other believers for encouragement, wisdom, and accountability. 
  • Most importantly, bathe your fast in prayer! Seek God throughout the day. Journal, reflect, worship.

This Lent, I invite you to join me in responding to Christ’s call to fast. God desires intimate fellowship with each of us. Fasting helps remove worldly distractions as we fix our eyes on Jesus. 

If you feel weak or unable to pull off an extended fast, don’t despair. Remember, we don’t fast to prove anything. Start small where you are, and trust God to lead you. He sees your heart of humility and desire to draw closer to Him.

May this Lenten season mark a new level of seeking God, hearing His voice, and yielding to His work in our lives. The true fast is one of the heart and spirit. Will you join me?

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A Biblical Guide to Fasting | My Interview with Pastor Vlad Savchuk

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