Teach Yourself About Fasting: A Scriptural Guide
Author: Apostle Kelvin Franklin
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This lesson was first published October 16, 1990 and was entitled "Fasting, A Scriptural Guide". Copyright © 1998 KC Enterprises. All rights reserved. No part of this lesson may be reproduced or published without written permission of the authors. Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, King James Version.
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Fasting seems to be a forgotten element of our modern churches.
The only problem with this is that fasting is a necessary and vital part of the church.
All problems facing the church are spiritual (EPHESIANS 6:10-12; 2 CORINTHIANS 10:3-5.) Yes, although it seems that the situations we confront are natural (people against people,) we must realize that they are caused by spiritual forces.
In order to fight these forces effectively, we must be able to wage warfare spiritually. Fasting is the means by which we are able to strengthen our spiritual man for warfare. Through the use of God's word, prayer, and the authority that he has given us, we can defeat the forces of satan.
This lesson will attempt to lead you on a study of fasting so you can understand its purpose and use in life. We will also attempt to explain in simplistic terms how to go about fasting.
This lesson is constructed mostly of scriptures. Thoughts and points were added to assist you in meditation or discussion. Remember, the Holy Ghost is your teacher.
|ST JOHN 14:|
|26. But the Comforter, which is the HOLY GHOST, whom the Father will send in my name, HE SHALL TEACH YOU ALL THINGS, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.|
|1 JOHN 2:|
|26. These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.|
|27. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, AND YE NEED NOT THAT ANY MAN TEACH YOU: BUT AS THE SAME ANOINTING TEACHETH YOU OF ALL THINGS, and is TRUTH, and is no lie, and even as it hath TAUGHT YOU, ye shall ABIDE IN HIM.|
I have given you many scriptures that deal with fasting in the bible. This was done because God's word is our doctrine.
|2 TIMOTHY 3:|
|16. ALL SCRIPTURE is given by INSPIRATION OF GOD, and is profitable for DOCTRINE, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:|
|17. That the MAN OF GOD may be PERFECT, THOROUGHLY FURNISHED unto all good works.|
As you read them, pray that God will give you insight into these areas.
First, let's examine the issue of why must we fast.
The new and old testament presents us with many reasons why we should fast. I will only cover a couple at this time. More will surface as we probe deeper.
|St Matthew 17:|
|14. And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,|
|15. Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.|
|16. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.|
|17. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.|
|18. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.|
|19. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?|
|20. And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; AND NOTHING SHALL BE IMPOSSIBLE UNTO YOU.|
|21. HOWBEIT THIS KIND GOETH NOT OUT BUT BY PRAYER AND FASTING. (ST. MARK 9:17-29)|
There are some thing that we can only control through prayer and fasting. Some healings can only be gained through fasting and prayer.
YOU WILL FIND THIS SCRIPTURE MISSING FROM MOST OF THE NEWER TRANSLATIONS OF THE BIBLE. I BELIEVE SATAN HAS DONE THIS. THIS IS THE ONLY PLACE IN THE SCRIPTURES WHERE IT SPECIFICALLY MENTIONS FASTING ALONG WITH PRAYER AS BEING REQUIRED TO CAST OUT THE STRONGER DEMONIC FORCES.
This scripture, ST MATTHEW 17:21, along with ST MARK 9:29 have been either deleted or drastically changed (depending on what bible you read) to eliminate fasting from the text. This is a significant oversight because, it is the only way that strong demonic influences can be overcome.
I don't want to take up another subject, but, this is not the only CRITICAL information that has been changed or deleted from the newer versions of the bible. You would be surprised what power has been removed from the children of God through the tactics of satan. A good book to read is Let's Weigh the Evidence: ISBN: 0-937958-17-4, Copyright 1983 by Barry D. Burton, Published by Chick Publications, P.O. Box 662, Chino, CA 91708-0662. This book list all of the scriptures that have been deleted or altered in the newer versions of the bible.
Smiths Bible Dictionary (published by: Barbour and Company, Inc. 164 Mill Street, Westwood, New Jersey 07675, copyright 1987) had this to say about fasting: "The mere fast is no essential part of the gospel plan, although it was practiced by the apostles."
Let's examine this thought. If the disciples thought it important enough to practice, surely it is something that today's church must use. They are the ones who taught us how to follow Jesus' example.
FAITH, PRAYER, AND FASTING ARE OUR ONLY EFFECTIVE TOOLS FOR OVERCOMING THE STRONG DEMONIC INFLUENCES THAT WE FACE IN LIFE.
Jesus had already given his disciples power against all unclean spirits, to cast them out and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease: ST MATTHEW 10:1. The disciples had evidently exercised their gifts before and had been successful. This seems to be the first time that they could not bind up and cast out a demon. They were quite concerned about this situation.
The reference to powers and principalities in EPHESIANS 6:12 indicate that satan has some type of established kingdom. From this scripture, we must conclude that there are some forces in satan's kingdom that are so strong that the only way we can control them is for our spiritual man to be strong.
Satan's power should be respected but NEVER FEARED. God has given us complete authority over him when we act in accordance with his word. When we don't follow his word (faith, prayer, fasting) we are subject to the advances of satan. If we don't follow God's word we will be powerless. Look again at this example.
NOTE: I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU MAY NOT AGREE WITH OR UNDERSTAND THIS POINT AT THIS TIME. I JUST ASK YOU TO KEEP IT IN THE BACK OF YOUR MIND AND ASK GOD TO REVEAL WHETHER OR NOT THIS IS TRUE. LET'S PRESS ON.
The demon (spirit) that was controlling this child was quite strong.
In conclusion, Jesus told his disciple that they could speak to their mountain and move it and nothing would be impossible unto them. However, they would only be able to accomplish this through prayer and FASTING.
|ST MATTHEW 9:|
|14. Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?|
|15. And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bride-chamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. (ST MARK 2:18-20)|
When asked why his disciples didn't fast, Jesus told them that there was no need for them to fast as long as he was with them. A study of Acts and the new testament church will reveal that they fasted often after Jesus was gone. We are the continuation of the new testament church. We must also spend time in prayer and fasting [NOTE THAT THE TWO GO TOGETHER.]
Next, let's take a look at a dictionary definition of fasting.
|FASTING: to abstain from food, to eat sparingly or abstain from some foods. (Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, Copyright 1984 by Merriam-Webster Inc. page 451)|
In this section, we will take a look at the entire 58th chapter of Isaiah. This gives a vivid explanation of the Lord's purpose for fasting. I have grouped these ideas together in to four areas:
|1. Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins.|
|2. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.|
|3. Wherefore have we FASTED, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.|
|4. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.|
The people were fasting for the wrong reason and going about it the wrong way. In simple terms, their heart was not upright before God.
a. They were enjoying the pleasures of life and not turning their hearts to God when they were fasting.
b. They were fasting for strife and debate and other wrong reasons.
God told them that their fast would not be heard on high as long as they were in this condition.
|5. Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?|
|7. Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?|
a. We are to afflict our soul (mentally isolate ourselves from the world and focus solely on the Lord.)
b. Bow down our heads in prayer, humble ourselves and seek God (2 CHRONICLES 7:13-14.)
c. We can use the money saved on food to give an offering to the poor and assist our neighbors.
d. Because we are growing closer to God we can share the Bread of Life (Jesus) that God is revealing to us in our fast with the World (ST JOHN 6:48-51.)
|9. ............., If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;|
|10. And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day:|
|13. If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:|
We must put away sin, evil thoughts, and evil attitudes and
turn wholly to the Lord.
|6. Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?|
|8. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward.|
|9. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am................|
|11. And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.|
|12. And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in.|
|14. Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.|
The blessing of fasting are just too numerous to point them all out here. Just to name a few:
a. God will loose the band of wickedness that hold our lives.
b. God will lift burdens and let the oppressed go free.
c. He will break every yoke (bondage) satan has in our lives [smoking, drinking, lust, hate, envy, covetousness, strife, jealousy, etc...........]
d. Our light will shine before men (ST MATTHEW 5:13-16.)
e. The Lord will reward us with his Glory.
f. The Lord will answer us when we call (prayer.)
g. The Lord will guide you (in decisions and actions.)
h. The Lord will satisfy us in drought (AMOS 8:11.)
i. God will be able to use us to repair breaches and restore relationships.
j. We will be healthier. Science has documented the fact that the body heals itself during periods of abstinence from food. Everything was designed to rest for a certain period of time. God rested on the seventh day as an example to us. Our body's digestive system also needs a break. Fasting will give it this break.
Fasting looses the bands of wickedness, it lifts heavy burdens, it can free the oppressed, and it can break every yoke that would bind us. Fasting is important. IF THE EARLY CHURCH (story is told in the book of Acts) HAD TO FAST, SURELY WE MUST FAST TODAY TO GAIN THAT CLOSER WALK WITH THE LORD.
|MOSES EXODUS 34:28 And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And He wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments (JUDGES 20:26.)|
|ISRAEL 1 SAMUEL 7:6 And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the Lord, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the Lord. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh.|
|ELIJAH 1 KINGS 19:8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God. (1 KINGS 21:27, 1 CHRONICLES 10:12)|
|EZRA EZRA 10:6 Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Johanan the son of Eliashib: and when he came thither, he did eat no bread, nor drink water: for the mourned because of the transgression of them that had been carried away. (NEHEMIAH 9.1; DANIEL 6:18)|
|DANIEL DANIEL 10:3 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. (MATTHEW 4:2, DANIEL 6:18 and 9:3)|
|CHRIST ST MATTHEW 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 4:2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. (ST LUKE 4:1-2, ST LUKE 18:12)|
|PAUL ACTS 9:9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. (ACTS 10:30)|
|LEADERS IN THE CHURCH AT ANTIOCH: ACTS 13:12 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 3. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.|
|PAUL AND BARNABAS ACTS 14:23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.|
|13. But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fastings: and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.|
|10. When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach.|
|24. My knees are weak through fasting; and my flesh faileth of fatness.|
|14. Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord,|
|12. Therefore also now, saith the Lord, Turn ye even to me now with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:|
|13. And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repented him of the evil. (JEREMIAH 14:12, ZECHARIAH 7:5)|
We have examined many issues up to this point concerning fasting. This topic is similar to number two except we want to discuss whether we should fast today.
Many scriptures used in this booklet are taken from the new testament. We are the new testament church. Therefore, I conclude that they apply to us in our daily lives. Let's look at a few more scriptures.
|I CORINTHIANS 7:|
|5. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for you incontinency.|
|II CORINTHIANS 6:|
|5. In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;|
|23. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.|
|33. And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken NOTHING.|
|34. Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you.|
|35. And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.|
|36. Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat.|
These scriptures serve to give us insight on the biblical perspective of fasting. It serves as the foundation for doctrine.
|2 CHRONICLES 20:|
|1. It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them others beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshapaht to battle.|
|2. Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazon-ta-mar, which is in En-ge'di.|
|3. And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. (Read chapter for outcome)|
When the enemies of Israel had set themselves against them, they turned to the Lord in fasting and prayer.
We should fast when we are in a trying situation and we don't know what God's will is for our life. By fasting, we place ourselves in a position were we move closer to God (ISAIAH 59:1-2, 2 CORINTHIANS 7:13-14.)
From our previous scriptures, you should be able to see how the disciples received direction and guidance from the Lord after fasting and praying.
|ST MATTHEW 4:|
|1. Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.|
|2. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterwards an hungered. (ST LUKE 4:1-2)|
|ST LUKE 4:|
|13. And when the devil had ended all temptation, he departed from him for a season.|
|14. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.|
The Spirit lead Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted. Before his temptation came, he fasted forty days and nights. He defeated the devil's temptation and returned in the power of the spirit.
|ST LUKE 18:|
|11. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.|
|12. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I posses.|
|ST MATTHEW 23:|
|23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. ST LUKE 11:42|
|2 CORINTHIANS 11:|
|27. In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. (PAUL'S SPEECH)|
Jesus did not condemn the pharisees for tithing and fasting. He simply called them hypocrites because of what they were not doing. They fasted twice a week in accordance with their customs. Paul does not give us a specific interval except to say that he fasted often. From these and other examples, it should be quite clear that we need to fast on a regular basis.
|ST MATTHEW 17:|
|21. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. (ST. MARK 9:17-29)|
The disciples came up against a spirit they could not cast out. The Lord told them that this kind only goes out through prayer and fasting. By fasting on a regular basis, we will always be prepared to confront the devil. We gain strength in our inner man through fasting and prayer.
I BELIEVE THAT AS A CHRISTIAN SOLIDER TODAY, FASTING MUST BE A REGULAR PART OF
OUR LIFE. AT LEAST ONCE TO TWICE A WEEK OR MORE, OR, AS THE HOLY SPIRIT LEADS.
I shall speak from the scriptural foundation that we have laid above along with ideas that God has revealed to me in this closing section. This section is not directive in nature but is here to help you to gain some understanding in how to apply fasting to your everyday life. Your decisions should be based on scriptures and what the Holy Spirit reveals in your life.
|ST MATTHEW 6:|
|16. Moreover when ye FAST, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.|
|17. But thou, when thou FASTEST, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;|
|18. That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.|
Points on Fasting
God wants us to fast. He doesn't want us to do it for a show but out of a sincere heart to him.
Sometimes I will set Monday aside as a fast day. I will begin either when I awake in the morning or when I go to sleep at night. I also decide on a specific time to end. 3 p.m., is the hour of prayer and is a good time to end a fast: ACTS 3:1.
The timing and duration is up to you.
Sometime I pray for deliverance from situations in my own life (GALATIANS 5:19-21) or in the lives of others, spiritual growth, understanding, guidance in decisions, etc.........
You do not want it to appear as though you are fasting. For the most part you should not tell anyone that you are fasting unless they ask specifically or in the event that you want others to fast along with you.
If you have the opportunity to use a day when you are free, it is advisable. But, you are not limited to this.
We can continue our daily lives as we fast. We should just be mindful to not waste this time in idle conversation or television viewing. This is time that we have set aside to feed our spiritual man (this is why Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit after being in the wilderness.)
By afflicting our natural man (withholding food) and praying and seeking God, we have done two things: establish the spiritual things of God as the most important thing in our life and put the flesh back under subjection so that we can control it: 1 CORINTHIANS 9:26-27, ROMANS 8:1-5, GALATIANS 5:16-26, EPHESIANS 4:23-24; 5:18-19.
During this time we are building up our spirit man. Remember, man exists as a triune being with spirit, soul and body: 1 THESSALONIANS 5:23, ROMANS 8:13-16, JOB 32:6-8. By reading and meditating on God's word we are feeding our spirit man.
You can (and should) pray and talk (commune) with the lord in your mind. You may decide to pray for five minutes every hour, while you're driving, while you're completing a task or in many other instances. The goal is to spend time with God and meditate on his word: PSALMS 1:1-4, PSALMS 119:11.
From the study above, it should be quite clear in your mind that God's provision for the fast include going without food.
Concerning water, I have found that some will argue that its okay to drink water or juice during this time. I will not challenge their position, but I must point out that our role models of old went without food and water. Jesus' reference is not quite clear but the examples of Moses, Daniel and Paul are. I believe that in its basic format, fasting include abstinence from food and water.
Also, questions have arisen on the issue of fasting from other things (television, to loose weight, or other hindrances, etc........). Let's examine this very quickly. There is no biblical precedence for this idea. These other things are items that should be under control in our lives already (according to the word of God.)
THE ONLY REFERENCE TO FASTING IN THE BIBLE IS TO AFFLICT THE SOUL, (go without food and water) SO THAT OUR SPIRITUAL MAN CAN GROW (meditate, study, pray: 1 PETER 2:2, EPHESIANS 4:23-24, ROMANS 12:1-2.)
If you fast in accordance with God's word, you will find the wisdom and power to put these other areas back into their proper dimension in your life. In summation of this area, anything done in the name of fasting without prayer, meditation on God's word and humbling of the soul, will not profit you spiritually.
Personally, I do not recommend fasting any longer than 24 hours at one period, although you may do successive periods as long as you desire or are led to. The only time we should fast longer is when either we are lead of God to do so, or if we have a strong commitment to fasting for a particular area. Some believe in fasting until you receive what you are waiting on. My answer to this and all other situations is that every man should be fully persuaded in his own mind (ROMANS 14:5,20-23.)
The scriptures clearly indicates that fasting is done by abstaining from food (sometimes also without drink: whether or not to consume water during this time is your decision).
In this weakened state (existing without food), our spiritual man becomes stronger. We become more sensitive to the Spirit of God. Since we are opening ourselves up to the spirit world, it is important to read the word of God, meditate on it, and pray throughout this period. Continue to look to the Lord during and after the fast until you receive an answer or are comforted about your situation.
Fasting on a regular basis will bring us to the point where we learn to hear the voice of God (ST JOHN 10:1-16.)
Copyright © 1998 KC Enterprises. All rights reserved. No part of this lesson may be reproduced or published without written permission of the authors. Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, King James Version.
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