Matt 17:19-21 says, "Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? Jesus said unto them, "Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." When studying great revivals through out Church history, there seems to be several common denominators associated with them – one of which is prayer and fasting. You can often trace a great move of God to a core group of His people who dedicate themselves to fasting and prayer for a Holy Spirit revival in their lives, families, churches, and nation. Let’s get into God’s Word.
In Matt. 17, Jesus said, “This kind” does not go out, except by prayer and fasting. “This kind” of what? Demon? Are there special demons that won’t bow to the name of Jesus? You have to fast and pray, too? No. Jesus was speaking to His disciples about unbelief. He said faith was not the issue, for a small amount of faith can move mountains. The demon was not the issue, because all demons have to bow at the name of Jesus. Unbelief was the issue. And the only way to get rid of unbelief is by prayer and fasting.
Fasting is to abstain from food for spiritual purposes. You could “give up” TV or sodas for a while, but the Biblical definition of fasting is going without food. A regular fast is going without any food, but drinking water or juice, for a certain number of days. A partial fast is just fasting certain types of food (Daniel fast), or fasting one meal a day. A complete or absolute fast is no food or drink. I wouldn’t recommend the latter except for a very short period of time if you choose to do it.
Jesus said if one would be His disciple and come after Him, he must deny himself (Mk 8:34, Lk 9:23). Self denial - not self indulgence - is the mark of a true disciple of Christ. Fasting is self denial. It denies the flesh. Jesus denied Himself by fasting (Mt 4:1-2). Jesus said His disciples would deny themselves by fasting (Mk 2:18-20, Mt 6:16). Repeat after me: I am a disciple of Christ – therefore I fast. Though fasting has become somewhat of a lost art in Christianity, it should be as regular a part of the Christian’s life as prayer, Bible reading, and Church.
The Apostle Paul fasted often, and he had a powerful ministry (2Cor 6:4-5, 11:27). Husbands and wives should periodically abstain from the physical union to fast and pray (1Cor 7:5). Christians should fast and pray for their pastor and church (Act 14:23). Fasting is a Biblical practice that all disciples should partake in. Don’t announce your fasting to the world or try to get attention. Fast unto God only, and He will reward you openly (Mt 6:16-18). Remember, it’s fasting and prayer. If you only fast, you might lose a couple of pounds – but you won’t get spiritual breakthrough. You pray while you fast. They work hand in hand.
Fasting humbles you. It causes you to get physically quiet, that you may hear the voice of the Holy Spirit (Act 13:2-3). It looses the bands of wickedness (breaks sin’s hold on you). It undoes heavy burdens and breaks every yoke (get nagging questions answered, and other burdens of the mind). Fasting let’s the oppressed go free (I believe this is revival fasting - for a great harvest of souls). To help the poor, needy, hungry, and afflicted. For your light to break forth (truth revealed). For healing to come forth speedily. For empowerment to live a holy, separated, righteous life. For Divine protection. These are all Biblical reasons to fast (Isa 58:6-8). It drives out unbelief. If you are not getting victory in any of the above areas, let me ask you this: have you prayed and fasted about it? Truthfully? Have you gone a few days without any food, and spent ample time talking to God in secret? Fast and pray – and get your answer.
I would encourage every Christian to fast and pray at least one day a week. Pick a certain day, and let that be your day. Commit to it. I would also encourage every Christian to set aside time to pray everyday - at least an hour. I know that may sound like a lot, but it’s really not that long. This is not a legalistic requirement, but simply a spiritual discipline – a denial of self. Try it. Commit to praying an hour a day and fasting one day a week – and see what it does for your Christian walk. You will be amazed. You don’t have to do any of this. God still loves and accepts you. But if you want real victory, and if you want real change – I highly recommend it. Until next time, rejoice in The Lord!