Benefits of Fasting and Praying
Morever when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrite of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their face, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward – Matthew 6:16.
When ye fast is a reference both to fasting and prescribed under the Mosaic Law in connection with the Day of Atonement, and the voluntary fast of that day. The Pharisees added two fast days, Monday and Thursday of each week as a case of public display and piety. Their sad disfigurement of face and the wearing of mourning garments gave them an opportunity to exhibit their superiority and sanctity before the people.The real purpose for fasting is to bring the body and soul into subjection so that in prayer, a person is focused solely on God and His plans and purposes for that person’s life. Each of us has natural desires and appetites that are a part of our creation. These are to be satisfied in a proper way according to God’s commandments so that the fulfillment of our desires and appetites brings about good to our bodies and souls. For example, we have an appetite for food, which is to be exercised within the boundaries of good nutrition and moderation. We have a desire for beauty, which is to be satisfied in purity. We have a desire for sex, which is to be satisfied within the bounds of a marriage covenant. We have an appetite for sleep, which is for the purpose of rejuvenation, not an escape from life’s responsibilities.
Fasting assists us in keeping our appetites under the guidelines of the written Word of God. God’s desire for every believer is to grow spiritually, it wasn’t His attention for us to receive salvation and not receive the full benefits of salvation. We’re living in a dark world where Satan is the god of this world (But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost. In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them – 2nd Corinthians 4:4). Fasting is a way to bring all of our normal life patterns to Him, this is when we’re giving Him our full attention, allowing Him to mold and shape us according to His purpose and plan.
We’re to bring others to the kingdom of God through our lifestyle as well as through prayer and fasting for the lost. If we’re not completely surrendering to Him, we will not have a desire to pray or fast unless we have issues or circumstances we want Him to intervene in. Before we can lead others to receive the fullness of salvation, we must have received for ourselves first in order to be a witness to others. Fasting enables us to be sensitive to the Spirit of God, empowers us to take control of our behavior and actions. Fasting enables us to better understand the Word of God. Fasting will reveal an area of our lives that need to be changed.
Throughout the Bible, we read about fasting, Jesus’ disciples fasted, and like the disciples of Jesus Christ, we too should fast. Sometimes God will give us a desire to fast, He may call to our minds a specific need or situation that we know requires an intense focus of prayer, or He may place in our hearts a deep longing to be with Him. When God calls a person to fast and pray, that person will have a greater desire to pray and be with the Lord than to eat, sleep or do any other activity. Fasting brings about a spiritual change in our lives and in the lives of others.
Fasting is a way to assist our digestive system to rest, its a benefit both physically and spiritually. If one wants to grow spiritually and be sensitive to the voice and the Spirit of God they must fast and not just when the pastor assigns a fast. Years ago, the church would fast, the congregation would also do personal fasting and you would see the Spirit of God moving in the church, people being saved, being filled with the Holy Spirit, healed and delivered from physical sickness and infirmities and demonic oppression. If we want to see the move of God again, we must live holy lives, fast and pray this is what moves God.