The Spiritual Discipline of Fasting

FastAt CityLife Church, we are about to commence a two-week season of prayer and fasting. Jesus fasted for 40 days at the beginning of his ministry, releasing great power into his ministry (Matthew 4:1-2), and he assumed that his disciples would fast also (Matthew 6:16-18). Fasting can be a powerful personal discipline to train our will, to help develop self-control, and to tune our spiritual sensitivity towards God. 

In fasting we choose to intentionally go without something for a period of time (usually something pleasurable but not necessarily sinful). It could be food (in a variety of forms) or some other activity (TV, music, etc). Fasting teaches us a lot about ourselves. It quickly reveals how much we are dependent on the pleasure of eating. It also demonstrates how powerful our body is and especially our appetite! Fasting seeks to confirm our dependence on God by finding strength from him alone. After all, it is not food that gives us true life; it is God’s word to us (Matthew 4:4). Life is much more than food (Luke 12:33) and our belly is not to become our god (Philippians 3:19. Romans 16:18).

Fasting is one of the more important ways of practising the self-denial required of everyone who would follow Christ. Fasting teaches self-control and therefore trains us in restraint with regard to all our fundamental desires and drives. We learn the value of ‘contentment’ (1 Timothy 6:6). Fasting is not an easy discipline but its practice yields great benefits in our lives, especially when accompanied by time in prayer and other spiritual disciplines.

As we move through this period of fourteen days of focused prayer, why not consider including some form of fasting. Most important of all, use the time you would normally be eating for time in conversation with God. 

Here are some recommended resources on fasting:

1. An excellent guide to fasting by Dr. Bill Bright.

2. Some medical advice on fasting.

3. Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough by Elmer Towns

4. Fasting by Scot McKnight

5. Simplicity and Fasting by Jan Johnston

6. Fasting Made Easy by Dr Don Colbert