So we fasted, seeking this from our God,
and it was granted us.
Fasting: The Key To Life’s Locked Doors – By Meisha Johnson
I think it is fair to say, especially nowadays, that we are all in need of something. An answer to prayer, divine intervention, spiritual breakthrough or, simply, strengthened faith. But in order to actually experience forward (upward!) movement in our lives, there are certain spiritual disciplines that are required. Certain doors that can only be opened with certain spiritual keys. Fortunately for us in this regard, the Bible holds no secrets. We are told exactly what we need to do — fast and pray (Matt. 17:21; Is. 58:6-7).
Fasting is much more recognized today than it was in the past, but not always for the right reason. Many people associate fasting today as nothing more than a trendy diet. A fast-track to a slimmer waistline. The importance and power of fasting has even been lost in most Church sermons. This has left even long-time Christians confused as to what exactly it is and why we should do it.
So what is fasting, really?
Fasting is one of, if not the, most powerful spiritual discipline that exists. A discipline that when done correctly and with right motives can transform your life. In fact, many people around the world refer to this discipline as the “real life super power”. A powerful prayer-answering tool declared by our Heavenly Father with proven results: “So we fasted, seeking this from our God, and it was granted us” (Ez. 8:23).
If you do a quick Google search however, you are likely to find a wealth of information regarding the physical rather than the spiritual benefits of fasting. There is no doubt that fasting can be good for the body. Not only is it great for weight loss, but it boosts metabolism and has positive effects on blood sugar, cardiovascular, and neurological health. Studies have even shown fasting to have a protective effect against certain cancers and other diseases. God is so good!
But as mentioned, fasting’s main purpose is not dietary or physical. It is spiritual. Fasting is prayer … prayer that strengthens and heightens our awareness of our connection with God. When the nation of Israel was in dire need of the Lord’s help in the second chapter of Joel, God spoke to them and immediately declared a fast: “Return to Me with all your heart with fasting…” (Joel 2:12). Fasting was a way of life for the Israelites so the Lord declaring a fast was not a shock to them, but they had fallen away from the required practice … and so have we. In the end, in exchange for their obedience and sacrifice, God remained with them, actively answering prayer and showering them with protection and special graces.
As believers, we know how powerful daily prayer is. A gracious gift that we have been given from God so that we can communicate with Him. Now imagine sharpening and enhancing that prayer through obedience and sacrifice? Removing our focus from ourselves, from our own issues and temporal matters of this world, and setting our minds on eternal things — things only of God: “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2). Jesus also told us in Matthew 4:4 that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God.” If God tells us to fast, we can be sure that it is important. We can also be sure that He will honor our loyalty to His word.
I have experienced God’s miraculous workings and breakthrough during my personal years of fasting. I have also become acutely aware of how dependent we are upon His mercy and providence. When we fast, sacrificing our temptations (and distractions!) of food and drink, we demonstrate to God that we are not held captive by our flesh (in this case, the “god” of our stomach) and that we are willing to sacrifice for Him. This shows to God that His Word is a priority in our lives and that we trust Him. This kind of obedience holds massive power (see the Book of Psalms!). A supernatural power capable of tearing down the toughest of strongholds that, whether you are aware of it or not, have been holding you back from your Promised Land.
Before we enter into this new year of fasting, it is worth mentioning one of Jesus’ warnings. Jesus said that when we fast (notice the word “when” and not “if”), we are not to make a show of it: “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matt. 6:16-18).
In Jesus’ time, the Pharisees and religious leaders would oftentimes go out in public and boast about their fasting. They wanted to show how religious they were, how much holier they were than everyone else. This display according to Jesus was rooted in pride and arrogance; not from a required place of humility. Fasting should always be done with right heart motives and intentions — to seek God and His will — and with a humble spirit of reverence, repentance and trust (Js 4:10).
While there is much more I could say about the power of fasting, I will leave it with this. We all need to be fasting. The experience will restore you spiritually and usher in real transformational change and breakthrough in your life. Moreover, we need a lot more of God. Not because of what He can do for us, but because of who He is to us. So join us this year in fasting. You will not regret it. And remember, fasting is not a legalistic rite that we do to get God’s attention. It is a powerful tool God has given to us in order to get ours. This, my friend, is the key to open all those locked doors.
“Jesus answered them: ‘The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast…'” – Matthew 9:15.
Written by Meisha Johnson