“Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast.
Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men
to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:16-18)
Fasting is best described as “a voluntary abstinence from food”. There are many reasons to fast, some are related to health issues. Along
with exercise, it may be part of a weight-loss program. Some people fast as part of a regular maintenance detox program, perhaps once or twice a
year. Their fast may include all-natural juices that promote body cleansing.
Throughout the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, we read of many occurrences of fasting. God’s people often fasted and prayed in times
of repentance and in times of great distress, recognizing they needed the deliverance that only God could give. In the story of the Ten Commandments,
Moses sat at the mountain top without food or water for 40 days. (The number forty was used repeatedly by God as a period of testing). Jesus
fasted for forty days in the wilderness when tempted by Satan. The Book of Acts tells us of Saul’s conversion, “And he was three days without sight,
and neither did eat nor drink”.
There were even times of fasting amongst nations of people. When the people of Judah were under invasion, King Jehoshaphat “feared, and set himself
to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the
cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 20:3-4).
Fasting is not intended to punish our bodies or to make us feel miserable. Rather it is used to bring us spiritually closer to our Lord. By
taking our eyes off the things of this world, we can better focus on Christ. While our bodies are being deprived for the purpose of drawing near
to God, He has promised in return to draw near to us.
It is not necessary for others to know we are fasting; it is directed towards God. “But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,
so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret,
will reward you”. (Matthew 6:17-18)
We read in Isaiah 58 that fasting is to be sincere and done with a right heart, not as an empty ritual. Verses 8 and 9 conclude, “Then shall thy
light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall
be thy reward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am ….”
A Biblical fast means to abstain from all foods and drinks, except for water. It can be a one day fast, three days or longer. The body
requires food for nourishment; therefore our hearts and minds must be totally focused and directed towards God so that He may be the full source of our
strength during our period of fasting. “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that
believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)
As mentioned earlier, there are also health benefits to fasting. Your body turns many of the foods that you eat into glucose, a type of sugar.
All of your energy comes from either sugar or fat. However the first place our body gets energy is from the food we eat; you will never burn fat as
long as you have food and sugar left in your body. The only time your body will start using stored fat for energy is when there is no more sugar in
your system. When you fast, your body transitions from using glucose as a main source of energy to using fat. Any toxins stored in your body’s
fats are removed, therefore detoxifying your system.
“Prolonged fasting protects the body against immune system damage and regenerates immune cells”, according to a study conducted by Dr. Valter Longo and
his colleagues from the University of Southern California. “Long periods without food kills the old and damaged immune cells and generates new ones,
therefore boosting your body’s ability to shield yourself from illnesses.”
Fasting is about giving your body and your digestive system a break. It is estimated that 65% of your body's energy is directed to the digestive
organs after a heavy meal. Periodically freeing up this energy allows your body to do other functions more efficiently, such as repairing damaged
cells, tissues and organs. Our body has been designed to heal itself, fasting helps to promote this.
You can begin with one-day fasts; even short fasts will allow your body, digestive tract and organs a chance to rest and repair and heal. It is
an ongoing practice that grows over time.
Fasting is not starving …. It just may be a key to living!