Simply defined, fasting is abstaining from food with a spiritual goal or purpose in mind. The Bible offers examples of several individuals who fasted for extended periods of time. At its core, fasting is a means of humbling ourselves before God and putting ourselves in a posture where God can speak to us about our spiritual condition and lead us to spiritual breakthroughs. Jesus fasted 40 days and also talked to His followers about “when you fast.” He acknowledged the value and importance of fasting.
Dr. Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church of Springdale, Arkansas was the first person I had ever heard about in the 1990’s who had fasted 40 days for his church. I remember hearing about great things happening at his church in the days that followed his fast. In his book entitled “The Power of Prayer and Fasting,” Dr. Floyd writes, “There is power in prayer and fasting. It is a means of access or entry into the supernatural power of God. Yes, it is God’s gateway to spiritual breakthroughs.”
The late Dr. Bill Bright, Founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, also practiced fasting. He said, “I believe the power of fasting as it relates to prayer is the spiritual atomic bomb that our Lord has given us to destroy the strongholds of evil and usher in great revival and spiritual harvest around the world.” Dr. Bright discovered that he had more time to pray and seek God’s face during periods of fasting. Fasting led him to recognize and repent of unconfessed sin and, as a result, to experience special blessings from God.
Although fasting is a spiritual discipline, it begins in the physical realm. And because fasting involves abstinence from food, it should never be entered into lightly. Any person who has diabetes, hyperglycemia, ulcers, anemia, heart disease and various other medical conditions should never fast without professional medical supervision. Those who fast should be in good general health. And, a good rule of thumb is to eat smaller meals before starting an extended fast in order to prepare your body for the experience.
The matter of how long to fast is a personal one. There is no specific formula. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist denomination, fasted two days a week. Daniel fasted for three-weeks. Others like Moses fasted for forty days. Seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit regarding what type and length of fast is right for you. Perhaps He will lead you to fast one or two days a week like Wesley. Or maybe He will lead you to fast for several days or perhaps for a much longer period. The most important thing to keep in mind is why you are fasting and then to draw closer to God during your fast.