Hello Readers, hope all’s well. With Lent starting up this week, today I have a special post in preparation for it.
The Bible makes many references to fasting. And Jesus also taught us the importance of fasting. Fasting is an important Spiritual activity and a core part of a healthy Spiritual life. As Christians, fasting should be part of our Spiritual routine.
Christianity has a few occasions for fasting, and one of them is Lent, which starts this Wednesday, February 17. Lent 2021 will run from February 17 to April 4, which is Easter. So if you’ve never fasted before, this year’s Lent (which starts this week) is a great time to start.
In today’s post I’m going to write about why we fast, what we can gain from fasting, and I’ll end by introducing a fast you can try for yourself. So let’s get right into it.
Weaker Flesh, Stronger Faith
Jesus Himself taught us the importance of fasting. He first taught us by His example. After being baptized, He went out into the wilderness and fasted for forty days and forty nights. This showed right from the start that fasting was important to Him.
Moving on, He mentioned the importance of fasting in Matthew 17. His Disciples were unable to cast out a difficult demon from an unfortunate victim. But Jesus cast it out immediately. When the Disciples asked Him why they couldn’t cast it out, He told them it’s because their Faith wasn’t strong enough. He told them that if their Faith was strong, nothing would be impossible for them. They could even move mountains.
And then He said that this kind of strong demon does not leave without prayer and fasting. This is significant because Jesus is making a connection between fasting and the strength of our Faith. He’s telling us if we fast, we have stronger Faith. Faith that’s strong enough to expel the strongest demons.
(17) Then Jesus answered, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” (18) Jesus rebuked the demon, and he came out of him. And the child was healed instantly.
(19) Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast him out?”
(20) Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief. For truly I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. And nothing will be impossible for you. (21) But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting. “
Matthew 17:17–21 (MEV)
Many versions of the Bible omit Matthew 17:21 though. That’s too bad, because this verse is in the original, and it’s so important.
Understand the connection between fasting and the strength of our Faith, which Jesus refers to in Matthew 17:21. Fasting makes our Faith stronger.
But how could that be? Why does it work that way? We find an answer in Galatians 5.
Galatians 5 explains that the flesh and the Spirit are opposed to each other. They’re opposites. When one is stronger, the other is weaker. When we deny the flesh through fasting, prayer, and self-control, the Spirit grows stronger. Then we walk in the Spirit, not the flesh. But when we indulge the appetites and desires of our flesh, our Spirit weakens and our flesh grows stronger. Galatians 5 tells us to walk in the Spirit, not the flesh. Fasting is the best way I know to do this.
Galatians 5 is one of the most important Bible chapters for a Christian to understand since it teaches this flesh vs. Spirit dynamic. The KJV translation is one that uses the exact words “flesh” and “Spirit.” So here’s what the KJV says:
(16) This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
(17) For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
Galatians 5:16–17 (KJV)
My preferred version, the CEB, doesn’t use the exact word “flesh.” Instead it uses the phrase “selfish desires,” as in, whatever the flesh wants. The desires for any of the sensual pleasures (any pleasure that stimulates any of the senses) of this world.
(16) I say be guided by the Spirit and you won’t carry out your selfish desires. (17) A person’s selfish desires are set against the Spirit, and the Spirit is set against one’s selfish desires. They are opposed to each other, so you shouldn’t do whatever you want to do.
Galatians 5:16–17 (CEB)
Learn this well: The Spirit and flesh are opposed to each other. When we deny the flesh, the Spirit comes alive. When we indulge in whatever we want, whenever we want, we indulge the flesh and our Spirit grows dim. Fasting is the greatest way to deny the flesh, because we’re using Self-Control to deny the most basic and common desire of the flesh-food.
Denying the flesh through fasting is a great way to kickstart some good Spiritual growth. This is why Jesus and the Bible teach the importance of fasting. So fasting should be a core part of our Spiritual life as Christians.
And I can attest to the Spiritual benefits of fasting from my own life experience.
My Fasting Experiences
I do at least two long fasts per year. One during Advent (December 1 to December 24), and one during Lent. The dates for Lent change each year, but it’s always the six weeks before Easter, ending on Easter. Besides that, I fast for twenty-four hours every week on Sunday. So I only eat six days a week, in other words. And now I can go for a couple days without food if I choose to.
Now, obviously I don’t stop eating for twenty-four days during Advent and forty-six days during Lent!! Of course our human bodies make that impossible. I can’t survive too many days without food and water, neither can you, and neither can anyone. But when I’m fasting, I only eat once a day. I’ll explain more of that in the next section.
But as for my experiences with fasting, I can speak to the great Spiritual growth I’ve enjoyed during times of fasting.
First, I’ve received many significant dreams when fasting. When I fast, these dreams come at a rate of almost one per night!! That’s a lot. But more importantly, these dreams are Spiritual and meaningful. They’re significant to me and what I’m doing in life. Why do I get more dreams when fasting? Well, it’s because my flesh is subdued and my Spirit is coming alive. Since my Spirit is now stronger than the flesh, it’s more ready and able to interact with the LORD. And so I download more messages and Wisdom-in this case, through my dreams.
Second, since I’m engaged in heavy Spiritual activity all day-using Self-Control to deny the desire of the flesh for food-my mind turns in a Spiritual direction. When I’m fasting, I spend most of my time contemplating the things of Heaven rather than the things of earth (Colossians 3:2). It only makes sense that doing a Spiritual practice makes us think of the Spiritual more. This is the ideal mindspace for us to be in. Without even trying to, we will spend a lot of time in reflection on Spiritual matters, and come to many realizations important for our Spiritual growth.
All Spiritual growth while fasting is made easier because the flesh is being subdued, so the Spirit can thrive. Expect fasting to be a time of good Spiritual progress. I can’t guarantee what benefits you’ll enjoy from fasting. Not everyone will receive dreams, for example. But I can guarantee that you’ll experience Spiritual growth somehow, if you take the fast seriously.
So with all that being said, let’s now move on to some practical fasting knowledge. I’ll introduce you to one of the most popular and meaningful fasts there is: The Daniel Fast.
The Daniel Fast
The Daniel Fast has it’s origins in Daniel 10:3. In Daniel 10, Daniel goes on a fast for three weeks. At the end of this time (it’s actually twenty-four days), an angel comes to him with a message. The appearance of the angel at the end of his fast shows us we can potentially gain great Spiritual treasures from doing this fast. It’s never guaranteed, but always possible.
But if an angelic encounter is our goal, realize that Daniel was praying and fasting for three weeks on one specific matter, one question, one request. We should not expect such a blessing from Heaven if our Daniel fast is not dedicated to one specific issue or question. Read the Book of Daniel for more guidance.
Anyway, on to the rules of the fast. Our interpretation of the rules for this fast come from Daniel 10:3.
(2) During that time, I, Daniel, had been mourning for three weeks. (3) I didn’t eat any rich foods. N either meat nor wine passed my lips, and I didn’t clean up at all until the three weeks were up.
Daniel 10:2–3 (CEB)
Here’s the KJV:
(3) I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
Daniel 10:3 (KJV)
From that, we get the following rules. No pleasant bread or “rich foods.” No meat or wine. After comparing many Bible translations, the commonly-agreed on foods allowed for this fast are: Vegetables and water.
It’s a fast of vegetables and water. This is the best version in my opinion. You can find other rules for the Daniel fast out there, which are based on other interpretations of Daniel 10:3. But vegetables, bread, and water is my choice. As for what’s not allowed on the fast….
Obviously, all meat products are out based on Daniel 10:3. That also means excluding fish and eggs. Alcohol is obviously out. But I also expand that to any beverage other than water. I say: Do not drink any beverage besides water during the Daniel Fast. Give up all coffee, soda, tea, and so on. And the only reason why is because these drinks are pleasurable. Consider them the same as “wine.” They are a desire of the flesh, and when we fast we’re trying to subdue the flesh. That’s my reasoning.
When I do the Daniel fast, I eat one small meal a day (OMAD) of vegetables and water. Nothing in Daniel chapter 10 says we can only eat once a day, so this detail is up to you. I like to only eat one meal a day (OMAD) during the fast, to deny my flesh more. But there can be disagreement on this point. If it’s your first Daniel fast, you could try not eating only while the sun is up, or other things like that.
Most importantly … DO NOT FAST IF IT ISN’T HEALTHY FOR YOU TO DO BECAUSE OF HEALTH CONDITIONS!! Consult your doctor to see if fasting is OK for you to do.
Take it Seriously
With Lent coming up this week, starting February 17, it’s an excellent time to start a habit of fasting. This year’s Lent starts on February 17 and ends on Easter, which is April 4. What better time to start than now?
Jesus and the Bible teach the importance of fasting. It’s a critical part of our Spiritual growth and progress. It needs to be part of our Spiritual life.
And the Spiritual benefits are excellent. But only if we approach our fasting with the right attitude.
Remember Matthew 6!! Don’t show off to people and act all anguished so everyone knows we’re fasting. If we do that, we’re trying to gain their sympathy. If we get their sympathy, we’ve already received our reward, and we won’t receive any reward from Heaven. So keep fasting secret, like we keep our prayers secret. Our Father in Heaven sees what we’re doing.
(16) “And when you fast, don’t put on a sad face like the hypocrites. They distort their faces so people will know they are fasting. I assure you that they have their reward. (17) When you fast, brush your hair and wash your face. (18) Then you won’t look like you are fasting to people, but only to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Matthew 6:16–18 (CEB)
Fasting is a serious Spiritual activity. Don’t show off with it. Don’t brag about it to others. Keep it secret, like we keep our prayers. Read Matthew chapter 6, and follow those guiding principles.
But for anyone who decides to start a fast, you’re doing a good thing. I wish you well, and feel free to comment on this post if you need some prayer, encouragement, or advice. I hope you’ll try fasting if you haven’t already, and open yourself up to the world of Spiritual growth and benefits fasting has to offer.
Well that’s all for today. If you enjoyed today’s post, be sure to Subscribe using the link below.
Until next time, be strong and do good!
Your new best friend in Christ,
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Originally published at http://999online.net on February 15, 2021.