“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
The devil is using some slimy tactics in Matthew 4. He may have added, “Fresh baked loaves with honey and butter,” appealing to his human need, while slipping in the slight, ‘If you are the Son of God.” The Spirit placed our Lord in this position as an illustration for us to be prepared for struggles, challenges, and temptations. The devil doesn’t fight fair and is at his slimiest when we are weakened and vulnerable. And most importantly, if the devil tempted Jesus, he would tempt good Bible carrying Christians too!
Jesus was prepared for the devil and answered with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. The Word of God says it is written…BAM! The Word wins because it is TRUTH! Whether fasting, or just trying to stay away from things which cause us to sin, it seems there’s a chocolate cake on every corner, and we need to be in a right relationship with God to speak His truth to our temptations.
Fasting develops the discipline of self-denial, living without food for a period of time and denying our flesh. God’s people have practiced this discipline in both the Old and New Testaments, being mentioned more than 70 times. Today, we hear of intermittent fasting for the purpose of weight management and to help with high cholesterol and chronic conditions. People who try this style of fasting agree, it is helping with weight loss and placing the body on a healthy track.
While weight loss and healthier living are awesome goals, Christian fasting offers experiencing the greatness of God. We want to draw close to God, and seek his face about our life, as we repent and humble ourselves in prayer. Fasting is biblical, holding the answer for many things we are searching for in life, including God’s presence. Through reading scripture, we see the importance of fasting accompanied by prayer will produce God’s presence, along with insight and direction.
Jesus taught his disciples the importance of proper fasting in Matthew 6:16-18, “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”
We learn from Paul that living sacrificially is a personal and spiritual act of worship, denying oneself and becoming a holy, living sacrifice for Him.
“I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” Romans 12:1
Ask yourself, am I denying self for the sake of self, or do I have an insatiable appetite for the presence of God? We may lose weight from intermittent fasting, but will we experience the spiritual release from the weight of the world in the divine presence of God? Best results occur with a healthy balance of Spirit and flesh while fasting. After all, we are spirit, soul, and body, this side of heaven.
“May your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23
Fasting has been pivotal in biblical history, including many “supernatural” fasts. Only God can sustain a person through a forty day fast. Yet, momentous revelation occurs when connected completely with God.
In Exodus 34:28 we find the first example of supernatural fasting when Moses spent time alone with the LORD atop Mount Sinai. “Moses remained there on the mountain with the LORD forty days and forty nights. In all that time he ate no bread and drank no water. And the Lord wrote the terms of the covenant—the Ten Commandments—on the stone tablets.”
Being with God changes everything, including our physical body. When Moses descended Mount Sinai to deliver the Ten Commandments to the people, his face radiated with the presence of the LORD.
What did Queen Esther do when her people faced certain death? She did not overthrow the King, or try to escape, she chose to fast and pray. She fasted and prayed to God for favor with her husband the King.
Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.” So Mordecai went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.” Esther 4:15-17
Talk about tackling the problem straight on, FAST, PRAY, HUMBLE YOURSELF, REPENT, and SEEK GOD! If we want to unleash the power of God on our problems, fasting and prayer places the focus on Him, and in due time, He closes the spiritual gap, and changes us from the inside out!
We must stop discounting the details, God wants our whole worship!
In Luke 17 the disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith. Jesus reminded them it isn’t about the size of their faith; it’s always been about the greatness of God!