In different seasons, there can be different motivations for going on a fast. It's always best when we respond to the invitation and the leading of the Holy Spirit no matter what that might look like. There are also times when we simply want to love God by presenting Him with that sacrifice. As long as our hearts remain pure and our intentions are to honor God in the process, each one of these reasons for fasting is good and biblical. Here are a few examples of some of the reasons one might fast:
• Grow in hunger for God
• Regain focus
• Reposition or seek alignment
• Freedom from addiction or from habitual patterns of sin/bondage
• Help set others free (Isaiah 58:6; Luke 9:1-2)
• Spiritual warfare (casting out demons: Matthew 17:21)
• Guidance in decisions (Daniel 9:2-22)
• As an act of humility (Psalm 69:10; John 4:8)
• Be refined
• Develop fruit of the Spirit, self-control
• Grow in intercessory prayer
• Sow into future seasons
• Set yourself aside as an act of consecration to God (Daniel)
• Prepare for stepping into greater measures of empowerment and anointing
It is also important to keep fasting in balance and not to come under the law, judgment, self-righteousness, or condemnation. Only the Holy Spirit can really sustain us on a fast, and we should always be led by the Spirit into all things. It is not by our own might or power but by His Spirit that we will be sustained during a time of fasting (Zechariah 4:6).
For longer fasts, make sure God is on it, or else you may just be fasting and getting hungry. Other times, you may feel that you want to initiate a fast because you want to honor God, consecrate yourself, call out for mercy, sow into future seasons, or do it simply as an act of worship unto God. As long as your heart remains pure and you are not doing it to try and manipulate God, or for personal and self-righteous gain, there are great rewards in fasting (Matthew 6:16-18).
Fasting to Bring Breakthrough
Many times, breakthrough can and does come through fasting (Matthew 17:21). While fasting is one key to bring breakthrough, it is important to realize it is not always the only key God calls us to use in a situation. There are times when breakthrough doesn't necessarily come through fasting alone, but instead by also loosing the chains of injustice, giving to the poor, or stepping out in radical generosity.
In Isaiah 58, what was needed for breakthrough was setting the oppressed free paired with fasting. Other times, the key to breakthrough was found in giving away all of one's money to the poor (Matthew 19:21), or washing in the river seven times (2 Kings 5). Sometimes it came when friends tore off the roof of a house so one person could be healed (Luke 5:17-26), and other times it came simply by touching the hem of His garment (Matthew 9:20-22). (Photo via Unsplash)
While the keys to our breakthrough are different at different times, ultimately obedience is the greatest key. Sometimes what brought us a breakthrough in one season will not work in the next. That is why it is important to spend time with God and be led by the Spirit in all things. We are in a relationship with the Person Jesus, and it is important to respond to His leading. Our healing and breakthrough are not found in spiritual exercises but in a Person. This is why it is important not to be led by spiritual disciplines but to be led by the Spirit.
With that said, fasting is one available key that Jesus regularly modeled and taught that can bring breakthrough in different areas, especially in the area of freeing people from demonic oppression. Many times, prayer with fasting is needed to overcome some of the more challenging spiritual battles we may face. Further, if one can take dominion over his or her body with self-control through fasting, that person will also be able to take dominion over spiritual strongholds.
Why I Fast
For over twenty-five years now, I have integrated fasting into my lifestyle and have experimented with most of the fasts mentioned earlier at one time or another in my spiritual journey. I took a class called Spiritual Disciplines in my final year at Vanguard University where my professor, Bill Dogterom, had us all fast one day every week throughout the term. Though that was one of my hardest semesters, because I embraced the spiritual disciplines, including fasting, I ended up getting the best grades that term. I have continued that rhythm of regularly fasting on Mondays ever since then.
So, yes, I am one of those weird people who actually likes the spiritual discipline of fasting. It's not that I don't enjoy food; it's just that I love that I can do something to position myself to increase my hunger for God and accelerate my spiritual growth. I love that I can experience more of God simply by setting myself totally apart to hunger after Him. He is my portion and my prize.
I have experienced such radical focus, clarity in decision-making, and alignment with His perfect will when I have embraced fasting. Similar to putting on goggles under water, fasting has helped me see more clearly in the spirit, time and time again. I am by no means an expert—just someone who has discovered the joys of fasting and the increased intimacy and revelation that accompany it. I simply want to make sure everyone knows how special and easily accessible this truly is.
• To encounter more of God
• To commune with God
• To grow in my hunger for God
• To be purified afresh for His purposes in my life
• To be set apart for Him
• To sow into the next season of my life
• Because Jesus fasted
• To tap into the wells of other revivalists
• To be ready to step into what God is doing
• To see breakthrough
• To refine my focus
• To seek wisdom and get clarity in my decisions
• To be aligned in His purposes for my life
• As an act of consecration and worship unto Him
• To stay full of the oil of the Holy Spirit
Fasting to Stay Full of the Oil of Intimacy
While the reasons I fast at different times vary, I generally and regularly fast the most because I want to stay full of the oil of His presence. I want to steward the fire of loving Jesus well.
For certain types of lamps, oil is necessary to keep the fire burning inside. Fasting is one way of keeping our lamps full of oil so that the fire of God within us never goes out. If oil can also represent the Holy Spirit, another way of saying this is that fasting helps us to remain full of the Holy Spirit so that we can continue to burn bright for Jesus and be ready in season and out. (Photo via Pixabay)
In Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus says that the Kingdom of Heaven is like ten virgins who took their lamps to meet the bridegroom. The only problem was that five of these virgins did not bring enough oil with them for their lamps. The other five brought extra jars of oil so that they would be ready at any hour to continue on with the bridegroom whenever he decided to show up.
The bridegroom hadn't yet arrived, and it was getting late. They all got tired and fell asleep. Then right in the middle of the night, they heard the cry that the bridegroom had arrived. They immediately awoke and trimmed their lamps so that they could enter in with the bridegroom. The five foolish virgins ran out of oil and were unable to continue the journey. They didn't have enough oil to keep their fire burning. They asked the five wise virgins for some of the oil they had stewarded for that very moment but were met with a clear "no."
The five wise virgins were not going to risk letting anything hold them back from this moment. The five unprepared virgins ran off in the opposite direction to get oil, while the five wise virgins went straight into the wedding banquet with the bridegroom. Then the door to the party was shut.
By the time the foolish virgins made it to the front door, it was too late. Because of their lack of stewarding the oil, the bridegroom didn't even recognize these other virgins when they finally arrived. He said he didn't even know them. Jesus ends this story with a line I rephrase to go something like this: "Therefore, keep watch, remain full, stay ready, for we do not know when God is going to act next, appear in His glory, or demonstrate His power." God wants us to be ready so that even if it's midnight or an hour we least expect, we are full of Him and ready to step into all that He has for us.
I want my lamp to be so full of the oil of the Holy Spirit that when it's time to enter into the secret chambers with the One I love, I am ready. I want to be so full of the Holy Spirit that when it's time to cast out demons, love the brokenhearted, stop for the one in front of me, or step out in courageous faith, I will be ready to respond. I want to be flooded with God's love so much that the overflow spills out to those around me. I want to be like one of the five wise virgins who remained ready for the arrival of the bridegroom and were able to enter into all that God had for them. I want to be totally possessed by the Holy Spirit and always ready to step into the fullness of my God-given destiny. I want to be ready to advance the Kingdom of God in season and out.
Fasting is one of the ways we can be intentional about being filled with the oil of His presence and focusing our attention upon the Bridegroom.
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Jennifer A. Miskov
Jen Miskov Ministries
Jennifer A. Miskov, Ph.D., is a revival historian, author, writing coach, and itinerant minister who loves to lead people into life-changing encounters with Jesus and invite them to receive a fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit and of fire. She founded the School of Revival which is a mobile intensive school as well as an online school to raise up revivalists around the world. She also regularly facilitates "Writing in the Glory" workshops around the world and online to catalyze authors to write their first books. Jen is ordained by Heidi Baker with Iris Global and currently teaches adjunct for Vanguard University in CA, and The King's University in TX. She received her Ph.D. in Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies from the University of Birmingham, U.K.
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