Fasting Means Refraining from Food for a Spiritual Result
I know I might step on a few toes with this post, but I just want to make one thing very clear. That is what fasting IS and what it IS NOT!
The word FAST in Hebrew means “to cover the mouth.” In the Greek, FAST means “to abstain from food.”
So, when someone says, “I am fasting from television,” it’s like saying, “I am going to cover my mouth and not watch T.V.” Or, “I am going to abstain from food by not watching television.”
That doesn’t make sense, does it? Fasting is abstaining from food for a spiritual purpose. It always has to do with food, and it’s not about abstaining from other activities.
Please uderstand, I am not saying that it isn’t a good a powerful exercise to abstain from an activity such as television to spend more time in prayer, study or meditation. That’s all very good. But it is NOT fasting. Fasting has to do with food.
Remember that we are a spirit, we have a soul (also called the flesh in scripture) and we live in a body (like an “earth suit”). When we fast, our spirit-man is taking control over our soul and our body. Our spirit is saying to the other parts of us, “I am in control. I know you feel hungry. I know you may want a slice of bread or a cup of coffee, but you can’t have it. I am in control of you now and you must obey me.” Your spirit is taking charge!
Experiencing this kind of discipline helps you grow in faith. It helps your innerman know that s/he can have authority, even when the soul and body don’t agree. Fasting puts all of you on high alert to the things of God. It’s a spiritual discipline unto the Lord.
Abstaining from an activity to replace the spiritual discipline of fasting is like saying to God, “I want to do this my way, not Yours. I want Your results, but on my terms.” This is all mixed up. If you want the benefits of fasting, then fast. Give up food or some types of food for a period of time. Take control of your soul and your body. Quicken your spirit. Open it to the Lord and His wisdom. Fasting is of God. The patriarchs, Jesus and the New Testament leaders fasted and prayed when they wanted to focus intently on God.
The Daniel Fast is a partial fast because only a partial list of foods are not eaten. It’s an excellent way to enter a short fast if you are new to fasting, and it’s especially great if you are led to a long-term fast, like Daniel did for 21 days as recorded in Daniel 10.
Let’s make sure that we keep the fast what it is . . . abstaining from food for a spiritual purpose.