Recently a reader reached out and asked the question, how do I fast effectively? I found this to be an excellent question, given this season we are navigating in the body of Christ. Fasting in my own words, is the willful abstinence from a physical thing for a period of time so one can feast on the Spirit, the bread of life. Many of us have fasted at some point in our christian walk, often times when we want to see a shift in a thing. For many years, I fasted when there was a major decision to be made, when there seemed to be delay in something that was promised by God, when I needed a move of God concerning something in my life, needed a miracle or in thanksgiving for an answered prayer. I remember when I just started fasting, I used to watch the clock to make sure that at the time my fast ended, my food was ready. I know, I know, when I look back I laugh too. If I am to be honest, in those times, I looked forward to breaking my fast by eating so much that I honestly don't remember what I was fasting for. Lord forgive me!!
In 2016, there was a pivotal moment in the latter part of the year between the Lord and me. This was the first time I fasted with my whole heart, truly seeking God for His help to get a job that at the time, seemed impossible to get. It was the first time in a fast I experienced such intimacy, worship and petition made without looking at the clock for the dearest thing near to my heart, my food. I fasted for 3 days and in those 3 days, I spent time learning more about my Father in Heaven, than even petitioning the throne. At the time, I didn't realise the shift. Friends, while I prayed the email came in that I got the interview; and they hired me on the spot. Prayer Answered! For three more days I fasted in thanksgiving. I went to the onboarding meeting, and was asked to begin immediately and I did! Not even 45 minutes later, I was called to return to the onboarding site as there was an issue. After two hours of investigating answers to solve the issue, it was right there they said, because of this legal issue (nothing criminal I promise), I could not take up the job at that time. Disappointment honestly was an understatement for what I felt and to this day, I still do not quite understand everything about that divine NO, I only know for sure that that job was not His will for me. I will tell you the few things I do understand from that experience in a later post.
For those memorable 45 minutes I had the job, I remember thinking to myself in the first half hour that this story was an excellent testimony. Clearly this testimony did not go completely the way I wanted or expected but God had other plans. In that time of disappointment, I did something I never did before, for the first time, I was distraught at the feet of Jesus. It was out of this specific heartbreak that I learnt that the Holy Spirit is a comforter and He does dry tears. I was broken, but the brokenness brought about my first intimate encounter with my Father. After the disappointment, I spent more days in fasting and prayer. After my fast concluded, I decided to join my sister in law and her family in New York. Thirty minutes into our drive we were rear ended. Yup, you read right, after my first true fasting experience, I was in an accident that really hurt my back. When the accident just happened, I remember thinking Lord what is going on? I just finished fasting and I get in an accident?! Little did I know, it was a setup for a time to come, which I will also write about at a later date. At the time, I was angry, I just finished a fast that was one of the most intimate experiences of my life with God, and ended up in an accident, in a foreign country whose medical system I had no clue about, and with travel insurance that I did not activate, so in addition to being shocked and angry, I was "insuranceless".
Friends, while fasting for a move of the Hand of God, there are some things I learnt in this experience, as well as other times of fasting that I will relay here:
When you are fasting, watch the posture of your heart. When you fast, the purpose is to refuse physical feasting so you can feast on the Holy Spirit. When I speak of physical feasting, I also mean our vices. These things I call vices are subtle comforts or things that we spend much of our time indulging in or things we run to that make us feel better when we are low in spirit. In a time of fasting, you also reject your physical vices so that you can put the Father where your vices were; whether your vice is an unhealthy relationship with food (because if you run to food for comfort, the relationship is unhealthy), social media, alcohol, drugs or even people. Whatever you run to first for comfort, you reject that in your time of fasting and run to the Father for that period time so you can feast on His Spirit, and seek comfort through Him. God will not compete with your vices or food for the throne of your heart. Side note: These things should not really take charge of us in our daily lives. I know and hear of people who have done fasts so as to truly lay down these vices so they can feast on Jesus not only for the duration of the fast but to break the vice or vices stronghold in their daily lives.
Fast with the intention of gaining intimacy with the Holy Spirit first, so that all other things will be added to you. The Lord knows your heart, and if your heart wants the desire more than you want Him, He will not grant it to you. Seek the Father first, confess your sins, then make your request known.
When you fast for a thing or move of the Spirit, seek understanding about the desire of this thing to ensure it is the will of God for you to have this thing. If this thing is the will of the Father, pray to ensure you are asking for it in the right season. Elijah prayed earnestly that no rain will fall and three and a half years later he prayed that rain would fall (1 Kings 18 & 19). Though he didn't fast, he prayed earnestly at the right time, in the right season.
Delay- When Daniel sought the Lord for 21 days for understanding, the angel said that the moment he prayed, his prayer was answered. But, the answer was held up in the realm of the spirit by the prince of Persia; and the archangel Michael had to come help fight in the realm so the messenger angel could bring the answer to Daniel (Daniel 10). Friends, sometimes when you fast and pray, you have to keep praying about that very thing even when the fast ends, as there is a war in the heavenlies for the very thing you are seeking.
Expect a 'push back' from the enemy when you fast. When Jesus fasted for 40 days, the Spirit led Him into the desert and He was tempted by devil there (Matthew 4). I just want to point this part out, at the end of 40 days, Jesus must have been extremely hungry and possibly lethargic. In addition to being in an already physically low state, He was led into a dry place to be further tempted. Here is what I mean, after we have spent time fasting and praying for a thing, we may end up tired in body, hungry in spirit for a move of God, and then here the devil comes with something that is concocted just to make you fall or think God did not hear you. He will tempt you in the thing you desire or petition for most. If you look back at all your fasting experiences, try to remember the things the temptor tried to pull, Im sure they are clearer now after the fact, but in the moment, do you recall what you felt? Did you fight back with the word of God like Jesus did? Or were you like me, angry, frustrated and offended?
Fasting is a spiritual discipline. Fasting is not a spiritual discipline to only be used when a major decision is to be made, or when we need God to move in an area of our lives. Fasting is physical sacrifice for spiritual abundance. In other words, we lay down our desires to commune with the Holy Spirit and listen for the things that are on His heart concerning us. Fasting should be a spiritual habit not just tool to accelerate our desires. Don't get me wrong, of course we can fast concerning our petitions, some of our issues need prayer and fasting to be moved (Mark 9:29). I'm just saying our petitions should not be the only reason we fast.
Friends, above all things seek Him, seek intimacy with the Holy Spirit. Out of this intimacy a plethora of things will be granted to you by the Holy Spirit, He will impart wisdom, give strategy & direction, understanding, and make known secrets things you could never perceive or imagine. Until next time....
Disclaimer: I am not a theologian nor do I know everything concerning the Father or how He moves in the lives of His children. My hope is that my sharing snippets of my journey with Christ, can help even one person on their own journey.