Most Christians and non-Christians rarely discuss or understood fasting. I remember, as a new
Christian, when we were asked by our pastor or one of the spiritual leaders in the congregation to
fast from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM So often we would watch our watches, or the clock on the wall, waiting
for 6:00 PM to arrive. On a few occasions, a meal was prepared in advance and the alarm clock set
sharply for 6:00 PM so we could begin eating immediately. As I look back on those days of my early
Christian experiences, it appears we were more concerned about eating than fasting.
Later, as I read the Bible, and other books about fasting, I discovered that fasting is a vital
teaching in both the Old and New Testaments. Furthermore, I learned that fasting, coupled with
prayer and a humble spirit, is a powerful weapon in the life of a Christian.
The Hebrew word for fasting means “to cover the mouth,” and the Greek word for fasting
means “to abstain from food.” In each instance, the meaning is the same. We cover our mouths to
prevent food from entering our bodies. Fasting is a time of dedicating both body and soul to God
by removing fleshly distractions from our lives. Fasting allows the spiritual resources of heaven to
occupy our thoughts and affections. We are removed, for a while, to a new dimension of spiritual
reality; our walk by faith, and not be sight, takes on a new meaning as we make a connection with
God in new and exciting ways.
Therefore, fasting is any self-imposed appetite-denying discipline. Consequently, fasting
takes on a negative aspect for the flesh; in contrast, it becomes a positive force in the Spirit. There
are, for example, a number of illustrations in the Bible that confirm the benefits of fasting. Here are
just a few of them:
1. Deliverance from the Adversary -Esther 4:1-3 (NIV). When Mordecai learned all that had been
done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly.
But he only went as far as the king¡¦s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth and ashes was allowed to enter.
In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews,
with fasting, weeping, and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
2. Jesus in the Wilderness – Matthew 4:1-2 (NIV). Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be
tempted by the devil. After fasting, for forty days and for nights, he was hungry.
3. For Divine Revelation and Confirmation -Acts 13:1-2 (NIV). In the church at Antioch there were
prophets and teachers. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart
for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
Since those early days as a new Christian and my first exposure to fasting, I have learned the true
meaning of fasting for spiritual growth and divine enlightenment. A fitting conclusion regarding the
importance of fasting may be summarized as follows: (1) As Christians we can and ought to fast on
behalf of our nation and those who provide leadership at the local, state, and national levels. (2)
Fasting will help us to overcome temptation as we face our social, physical, moral, and spiritual
wilderness. (3) May we fast and pray for men and women who will petition God for his guidance
and direction of Holy Spirit as we seek to do his will.
– Dr. Alvin Lewis, Retired, Former Pastor, Central Community Church of God, Jackson, Mississippi