Here is something that extremely underutilized among Christians: Fasting. Jesus says to us in Matthew 6:16, “When you fast…” not … “If you fast”. A true disciple of the Lord will fast at times.
Fasting accompanied by prayer is a powerful weapon against the enemy!
I remember years ago I was being harassed by a particular evil spirit. I would rebuke it but it would continually return. I resorted to fasting against it in the name of Jesus. This is, if I remember correctly, the first time I have ever fasted. I didn’t eat anything for about 4-5 days and only drank water or juice. When I ended the fast the demon showed up in my bedroom enraged. The hairs on my body stood straight. The environment in my bedroom was heavy with evil and fear as the demon confronted me. I felt like it wanted to rip my head off right then and there. It communicated to my spirit angrily “why did you fast against me?” Soon after the demon stopped harassing/attacking me. That was when I realized how powerful fasting can be especially in the realm of spiritual warfare.
Jesus said some kinds of demons won’t even come out unless a person prays and fast. He said, “however, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21; Mark 9:29) Sometimes prayer alone isn’t enough to break fortified strongholds and yokes of bondage.
Other purposes of fasting are:
1. To honor God – (Mt 6:16-18, Luke 2:37, Acts 13:2, Mt 5:6).
2. Repentance and to humble oneself (1 Kings 21:7; Jonah 3:5; Psalm 51; Psalms 35:13; Jer. 29:11-14, James 4:8-10).
3. For revelation – God’s vision and will or enhancing spiritual discernment; believers fasted before they made important decisions – (Dan 9:3, 20-21, Dan 10:2-10, 12-13; Acts 3:13, 13:2, 14:23).
4. Revival – personal and corporate – (Acts 1:4, 14 / 2:16-21, Joel 2:12-18).
5. Though this should not be a reason to fast in and of itself — we get rewards when we fast to honor God in some way, done in humility, for Christ-like reasons – (Matt. 6:17-22). But make sure it is not done in pride and have it be done in secret.
6. For protection. Ezra the priest fasted for God’s protection while carrying valuable things for God’s temple. We too can fast for God’s protection (Ezra 8:21-23).
7. For full-time ministry and mission work – The church in Antioch fasted and ministered to God, which resulted in the launching of Paul and Barnabas’ apostolic ministry to the Gentiles (Acts 13:2,3).
8. Polycarp in 110 A.D., urged fasting upon the saints as a powerful aid against temptation and fleshly lusts.
The duration of biblical fasts varies:
Some fasted all night (Daniel 6:18; Acts 10:30).
Some just one Day (Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 7:6).
The Jews had a corporate fast of three Days (Esther 4:16).
Cornelius – (an unconverted, Gentile Soldier), fasted for four days. “…and Cornelius said: ‘Four days ago I was fasting until this hour, and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house…’” (Acts 10:30).
The Israelites fasted seven days (1 Samuel 31:13).
Daniel did a partial fast for 21 days (Daniel 10:2-3).
Moses, Elijah, and Jesus fasted for forty days (Exodus 34:28; 1 Kings 19:8; Matthew 4:2)
Some may ask how long should I fast? I can only speak for myself. I feel that fasting becomes really effective after the 3rd or 4th day without food.