Powerful Reasons to Fast—Even When You Don’t Want To

When you think of fasting, what words come to mind?



Headaches and shakiness?



Perhaps you’ve never heard the term fasting. Or you’ve heard it in a secular context, like, I’m fasting from social media.

To fast in a spiritual sense usually means to choose to give up eating for a time to focus on a spiritual purpose, goal, or need for ourselves or others.

I don’t like fasting because I love food. And I have a high metabolism that requires me to eat every few hours. (I always keep crackers and M&Ms in my purse in case a hunger wave hits.) My need for regular snacks is so profound that my daughter affectionately calls me “The Toddler.”

I don’t enjoy the weak, light-headed feeling that usually accompanies a fast either. Or the headache. Or the overall grumpy feelings. 

Can you relate?

Yet as much as I enjoy food and the comfort of a full belly, there’s something I love more. Something I need more—God’s power. 

Pressing into the Arms of Christ 

Theologian Andrew Murray said, “Fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal . . . Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.”1

When I fast and pray, I say to God, “I want your power in this area of my life more than I desire food.”

Jesus affirmed that there would be a time for fasting, saying, “But the time will come when the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.” (Mark 2:20). 

During Christ’s life on earth, when His disciples needed His help or wisdom they simply went to Him and asked. Believers today can’t physically stand in his presence or kneel at His feet to present our petitions. And while we can boldly approach the throne of grace with confidence (Heb. 4:16), we sometimes struggle to see His face and hear His voice. 

Fasting clears the glass, helps us set aside distractions, and presses us into the arms of Christ. Experiencing physical weakness helps us realize how spiritually weak we truly are. It’s only when we realize our helplessness that we can make room for God to work in our often prideful, self-sufficient hearts.

Hudson Taylor, missionary to China, described fasting in this way: “In Shansi I found Chinese Christians who were accustomed to spending time in fasting and prayer. They recognized that this fasting, which so many dislike, which requires faith in God, since it makes one feel weak and poorly, is really a divinely appointed means of grace. Perhaps the greatest hindrance to our work is our own imagined strength; and in fasting we learn what poor, weak creatures we are—dependent on a meal of meat for the little strength which we are so apt to lean upon.”2

Why Fast?

Scripture reveals several reasons to fast. The three most common are: to seek God’s power and favor (Matt. 6:16–18, Matt. 17:21 NKJV), to ask for forgiveness and healing (Dan. 9:3), and to gain wisdom and direction (Acts 14:23). 

I find myself fasting and praying most for God’s supernatural work in my children’s lives. More than almost anything, I desire for my daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren to love and honor God all the days of their lives. I want this badly enough to fast for it. To seek God in prayer for it every day. And to be such an example of peace and joy that they will want to know and love my Savior. 

What do you want more than anything? 

If this desire aligns with God’s will, have you considered fasting and praying for it? 

Remember, we don’t fast to manipulate God into doing something He’s unwilling to do. Instead, fasting allows us to set aside distractions to seek God’s will and power in a certain situation. By giving up food, media, or, as one friend did, her daily soft drink, we give up what is dear, and sometimes even vital, in the hope of gaining something even greater. 

When we fast, we say, “Not my will but yours, Lord.”

If something is heavy on your heart, I encourage you to try this age-old discipline. If you’re like me, you might not like it. But you may come to love it. 

In my next article I’ll share ten tips for successful fasting. In the meantime, check out these excellent resources from Revive Our Hearts:

True Woman ’22 will feature two breakout sessions related to the topics of fasting, prayer, and food: “A Practical Guide to Fasting” with Erin Davis and “Food Is Not the Enemy: Discover Freedom from Food Fixation” with Asheritah Ciuciu. Plan to attend the conference in person in Indianapolis or purchase the all-access livestream pass for exclusive access to audio of every breakout session—plus video of every main session and the CryOut! prayer event—through December 31. Register for either option today at TrueWoman22.com

 Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer - Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Accessed August 19, 2022. https://ccel.org/ccel/murray/prayer/prayer.XIII.html. 

 Peter H. W. Lau, Esther: A Pastoral and Contextual Commentary (Cumbria, UK: Langham Publishing, 2018).

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