There are many ways that help us grow into a greater relationship with God. You’ve probably heard of all the primary methods that people mention. Such as: prayer, reading the Bible, fellowship with other believers, etc. All these are essential, but there is one method that is often neglected, and that is: fasting.
But how does fasting help our relationship with God?
Fasting improves our relationship with God because when we fast we are denying the things of the flesh, which causes us to focus on the things of the Spirit. Fasting causes humility to rise in us, and pride to fall. It causes the fallen man to die, and allows the flesh to come into agreement with the Spirit.
If you wish to understand further, please keep reading.
Biblical Purposes of Fasting
There are many purposes of fasting that are mentioned in the Word of God. Here are a few:
Fasting increases humility. In Psalms 35:13 David says that he, “humbled himself with fasting.” One of the best ways to humble yourself is through fasting. In fact, Many times in the Old Testament when people referred to “humbling themselves” it usually meant fasting.
The Bible says that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). If you, or I, want to receive more of God’s grace and not have Him resist us, then we need to develop humility through fasting.
Fasting helps you live by the Spirit, and not the flesh. We are commanded in multiple locations to walk by the Spirit and not the flesh. In fact, there is no other requirement for the Christian, walking in the Spirit is the fulfillment of the Law (Related article: How to Walk in the Spirit).
Fasting is an effective way to walk in the Spirit. It allows us to quiet the voice of the flesh, which helps us learn to listen to the voice of the Spirit. Being flesh conscience is the stumbling block to walking in the Spirit effectively and consistently.
But imagine if we can remove that stumbling block?
Prayer helps us be conscience of the Spirit, but doesn’t remove the stumbling block. Studying the Word helps us grow in faith and knowledge of the Spirit. But fasting is what moves the flesh out of the way so the God inside of you can function and have His way.
Fasting rids unbelief. One of my favorite passages in the Word of God is Matthew chapter 17 when Jesus heals an epileptic boy. In the story, the boy’s father brought his son to the disciples for them to cure him. The father assumed that they could cure his son because they were doing miracles throughout the cities of Israel, but the disciples could not cure him.
When Jesus came down from praying on the mountain the father came to the Lord and told Him what happened. Jesus rebuked His disciples and healed the boy.
Later, the disciples came to Jesus and asked why couldn’t they heal the boy. Jesus responded by saying,
“Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:20-21)
The reason the disciples couldn’t cure the epileptic is because of their unbelief. Jesus tells them briefly their problem, and then makes them a significant promise! If we can have faith, and no unbelief, nothing will be impossible for us.
Now, I want you to notice what Jesus says at the end. He tells His disciples that this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting. What’s “this kind” mean? “This kind” is the unbelief that Jesus was talking about. Our Lord is telling us how to get rid of unbelief so we can walk in the promises of God.
Intimacy with God Through Fasting
Fasting, for a lot of people, is a struggle. They view it as a work, and a strenuous activity that is dreaded. A lot of the body of Christ today have dreaded fasting so much they just decided not to do it altogether. This is not how it was meant to be.
Yes, fasting is a work, but if it is understood clearly there is such joy in it!
In the garden of Eden, before the fall, Adam and Eve had something that we don’t have. The world of the Spirit was much more real to them than this natural world.
Why else would they not know that they were naked before they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil?
“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” (Genesis 3:7)
Because when they ate the fruit they became more aware of the natural world than the spiritual. Their “sixth sense” of faith was lost, and they became self conscience.
Now, Christ has redeemed us from that sin nature and He has restored us back to fellowship with God, but we still have an un-renewed mind full of unbelief and wrong motives. (Related article: 3 Simple Tips on Renewing the Mind)
What has this to do with intimacy with God and fasting?
Everything! Without a renewed mind and the flesh submitted, it’ll be difficult to hear from the Father. We will struggle to know His will over situations. We won’t believe that we’re righteous before Him and that He wants to have a relationship with us.
Fasting is a tool to get rid of all of that. Spending time in prayer and studying the Word are for planting and watering, but fasting is for plucking the weeds. We need all three if we want to have a fruitful relationship with the Father.
Practical Application of Fasting
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. This content is not intended to be medical advice in any way. Be sure to consult with your doctor before changing any diet habits.
Now on to the practical stuff. How do you go about fasting?
Well, if you are brand new to fasting I would suggest that you would start just missing a single meal, maybe your breakfast or something. It’ll be wise not to start out with a 21 day water fast. If that’s your goal, you probably should work your way up to it.
For me, I like fasting for only a couple days a week. I’ll choose two days, like Monday and Friday, and I won’t eat any food until dinner time. But I’ll only fast on those two days. I prefer this method of fasting because it keeps me in a lifestyle of fasting and a place of humility, versus fasting for a long period of time once or twice a year.
An important thing to remember is fasting has to do with abstaining from food for certain period of time, it isn’t abstaining from social media or television. Now, of course, you can and should limit television and social media consumption, but that is not fasting, it’s just called holiness.
In short, fasting is an amazing benefit in your walk with the Lord. It will help you to build a relationship with Him by causing you to be more sensitive to His Spirit. It will develop a kind of sensitivity that will only come through consistent fasting.