Two things need to be observed: first, fasting needs to be an act of glad obedience to the direction of the Lord; second, God unfailingly honors the sacrificial discipline involved in fasting.
O. Hallesby has written: “The purpose of fasting is to loosen to some degree the ties which bind us to the world of material things and our surroundings as a whole, in order that we may concentrate all our spiritual powers upon the unseen and eternal things.”
I agree completely. I’ve been practising fastingin recent times, and intend to make it a discipline. In the most difficult and desperate situations, when it seems there is no way out – and your prayers are not being heard, and you are struggling for days – then the only way out is to ‘Fast and Pray!’. The enemy is cast out by fasting and prayer, Mark 9.29.
In two experiences in recent times, I gained the victory through Fasting. The first experience was quite intense and frightening; I was helped by Andrew Murray. I carried three books of his to America. I fasted two and half days, skipping every meal, and taking only liquids. In a wonderful way, God gave victory. [Andrew Murray himself was helped by Johann Christoph Blumhardt (Mottlingen Revival)].
The second experience – the one I’m going through now – God has (already) given the victory. The war against the evil one has reached a peak. The first battle is won, but the war with the enemy is raging still. God gave victory through His Word; how vivid and how powerful His word came to me and my wife during the trial of October 15, 2020. I had been preparing for about 10 days, and I was fasting in between (a 24 hour fast). (My wife couldn’t fast, being diabetic.) But on the night of October 15 she too fasted. It was a tremendous experience. The Holy Spirit took us through His Word: Psalm 72, Psalm 71, Psalm 118, Psalm 116, Isaiah 54, Jeremiah 31 and many other portions of Scripture. The devil tried to plant doubts and anxieties in our hearts, and tried to divert our attention to the physical circumstances; but the Holy Spirit had gripped our hearts and again and again we were led to the Word. We opened the Scriptures at the prompting of the Divine Spirit, and read them with a new light and new power. The Word was both a weapon of defence and also a weapon of aggression. The four hours we went through, it felt like we were going through a terrible storm on a boisterous sea. But the Lord was saying, ‘Have faith!’. Luke 8.24, 25. ‘Look unto Me!’ In effect, He was saying, ‘Where is your faith? Believe that I am the Almighty, the Omnipotent One. You are involved in a spiritual battle, and I will carry you through! I am your El Shaddai, Emmanuel and Ebenezer God!’
The enemy is still counter-attacking, but our defence is i. the Word of God. And ii. fasting. And iii. prayer. Just these three. (Besides, of course, a clear conscience and a determination to glorify Christ in this situation!)
Why is fasting so important? As Hallesby says: ‘That we may concentrate all our spiritual powers upon the unseen and eternal things’…by taking our eyes away from the visible, the temporal and the physical things. We walk by faith, not by sight, 2 Cor 5.7. Faith comes from God’s infallible Word, the Word that speaks to us clearly through the voice of the Holy Spirit. God is faithful and true. He honours the determination to seek Him with a whole heart, Jeremiah 29.13. Giving up food (one or two meals in a day) is almost nothing, when we compare this little sacrifice with the eternal reward that awaits us! And not only the future reward, but we will ‘see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living’; yes, here on earth, in multiplied spiritual and material blessings. The spiritual is most important; but God, knowing how frail we are, rewards us with material blessings, too – so long as we don’t hold on to them, but keep sharing them with poor and needy children of God. Christ’s character, ‘Christ fully formed in us’ – that’s the goal! Gal 4.19
I hope you understand what is being written now, so hurriedly on a Sony Vaio laptop with the wifi button not functioning. So I have to type and also hold the wifi button in place so as to send out this post to the Internet.
Love and prayers! (And pray for me! Every prayer counts!)