“Do you have a hunger for God? If we don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because we have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. If we are full of what the world offers, then perhaps a fast might express, or even increase, our soul’s appetite for God. Between the dangers of self-denial and self-indulgence is the path of pleasant pain called fasting.” – John Piper
Fasting is a common subject in the Bible. The Bible gives examples of God’s people occasionally combining fasting with their prayers so as to stir up their zeal and renew their dedication and commitment to Him. King David wrote “and humbled myself with fasting.” (Psalm: 35:13). Fasting is a means of getting our minds back on the reality that we are not self-sufficient. Fasting helps us realize just how fragile we are and how much we depend on things beyond ourselves.
The Bible records that great men of faith fasted so that they might draw closer to God. First, Elijah: “So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.” (1 Kings 19:8) Exodus 34:28 says, “Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.” Daniel 9:3: “At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.” And Daniel 10:2-3: “So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.”
James tells us, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James:4:8). Constant prayer and occasional fasting help us to do this. We are not to fast to have people feel sorry for us or to think we’re pious.(Matthew 6:16-18) Isaiah 58 gives both bad and good examples of fasting, contrasting wrong attitudes and actions (Isaiah 58:3-5) with the right approach. (Isaiah 58:6-10) Nehemiah set the example of having a repentant frame of mind. (Nehemiah 9:1-2)
Why is fasting mentioned so much in Scripture? Because it helps us discern the will of God. And, it destroys strongholds. Now, you may be thinking, “Marty, that may be true for some people, but not me. There aren’t any strongholds like that in my life.”
Well, that could very well be true. But have you thought about the stronghold of fear? Or the stronghold of bad habits? Or the stronghold of anger, jealously, rebellion and resentment?
Think about your relationships. In our series Sabotage, we talked about the things that can cause the most damage in those relationships? If you can think of a behavior pattern or habit that’s had a history of hurting the people you love, that one thing could very well be a stronghold that our enemy is using to trip you up.
Fasting gives you God’s focus for your life. It is a major key to hearing God’s voice. We need focus from God more than anything. The world we live in is working overtime to distract us, to entice us, to win our hearts and minds, our focus, and to determine our vision. Fasting cuts out the world so we can tune into God. If we are obedient to God, fasting will make us catalysts for revival and awakening.
So why not pray about whether or not you should commit to the 21-Day Daniel Fast that Northstar is starting on March 15. Sure, you might have to skip some of your favorite foods and yes you will eat differently. But, if it will help you deny yourself, defeat your enemies, discern the will of God, and destroy strongholds, why not give it a try? My prayer is that you will join us as we fast and seek God’s will and direction for our future.
1. Do you believe that is it important for every believer to practice the spiritual discipline of fasting? Why or why not?
2. If you are going to participate in the Daniel Fast, what are your specific aims? What do you foresee your challenges to be as you take part in the Daniel Fast? How might you use prayer to help you overcome them?
3. Do you have any fears or apprehensions about beginning the Daniel Fast? What wisdom can you glean from Daniel’s story in the message this week that could help put your fears to rest?
4. Share about a time you fasted and prayed. What did God reveal to you during that time? What might you do differently this time around with the Daniel Fast?
5. Pray and ask God that He will bring you closer to Him through your fasting.