Have you been avoiding the spiritual practice of fasting? You’re missing out on the power of a biblical fast! Find out how with these three rewards of fasting.
Whenever you think of fasting, does your flesh grab your shirt collar and run the other way? It’s uncomfortable to be hungry! But did you know fasting is a powerful spiritual tool that can change your life? The rewards of fasting are what beckon us to embark on a biblical fast.
There are times for all of us when the day-to-day business of life and the constant demands on our bodies seem to get in the way of our hearing from God and operating in the spirit realm—and the rushing stream of God’s power is reduced to a trickle in our lives.
There are times when simply pressing into God through more time in His Word and in prayer will reopen the flow of the supernatural in your life. But, at other times, you need something more—a time dedicated wholly to Him.
The Bible tells of many powerful times of spiritual fasting, including the following:
- Moses fasted while preparing to receive the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 9:9-18)
- Elijah fasted when he was in physical danger from Jezebel (1 Kings 19:4-8)
- Esther fasted for the safety of the Jews (Esther 4:15-17)
- Daniel fasted when he needed revelation and an answer to prayer (Daniel 10:1-3)
- Jesus fasted before embarking on His earthly ministry (Matthew 4:1-2).
When Should You Fast?
A common question many have when it comes to fasting is: When should you fast? In Isaiah 58, God explains some of the reasons for biblical fasting, and others are modeled throughout the Bible, as well. Some reasons for fasting:
- Fast when you are seeking the direction of the Lord.
- Fast when you haven’t received an answer to your prayer.
- Fast for deliverance (breaking the yoke of bondage).
- Fast on behalf of a friend who is under a heavy burden (to receive insight into their situation or for their deliverance from oppression).
Ultimately, you should be led by the Spirit before entering into a fast, and you should always have a purpose for doing so. If the Holy Spirit has been pressing on you to fast—do it!
There are many rewards for spiritual fasting, but they are private rewards between you and God. Being spiritually proud of the fact that you are fasting will destroy everything you are trying to accomplish.
In fact, in Matthew 6:16-18, Jesus says, “When you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”
What would that reward be? It is certainly not a pat on the back for not eating. The rewards of fasting are related to whatever motivated you to fast. Whatever reward you’re seeking, establish it by faith; and proclaim it before you ever enter the fast. Expect to receive it. God will see in secret, and you will receive openly.
As you study the Bible, you will discover three specific rewards of fasting: Fasting subdues your flesh, fasting brings revelation, and fasting leads to deliverance. Learn more about each reward below.
1. Fasting Subdues Your Flesh
“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” –Matthew 26:41 (NIV)
Sometimes our natural circumstances can dominate our thoughts. You know, those up-in-your-face details you can’t seem to get past? You want to operate in faith, you want to stand on the Word, but the facts are so blaring, the truth in God’s Word has inadvertently taken the back seat. So, how do you get God back in the driver’s seat?
You have to clear away your flesh. You see, if we let it, our flesh will hijack our spiritual life, dominate our thinking and ultimately determine our outcome…unless we stop it. Sometimes, increasing our prayer time and doubling up on the Word of God will take care of it. But, if you need to hear divine direction from the Lord, fasting subdues your flesh and opens your spiritual ears to receive it.
Maybe you’ve been stuck in the same place, feeling like you haven’t received a manifestation of God’s promises, or perhaps you are seeking instruction from the Lord regarding a particular situation. Biblical fasting may pave the way for you to hear what God has been saying to you all along.
Whatever the purpose, fasting isn’t just about abstaining from food—it is the act of separating yourself exclusively to God. It is the deliberate pushing of everything aside—subduing the flesh—and giving Him your full attention. This allows your spirit man to dominate, and your spiritual ears will be wide open.
Andrew Murray explains it this way: “Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; 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.”
Watch Kenneth Copeland share the key to answered prayer in this video:
We see throughout the Bible instances where people needed to fast to gain spiritual insight. It wasn’t that God wasn’t talking—it’s that the circumstances had become louder than His still, small voice. When Daniel fasted from luxurious foods offered to him by the king, he had heightened spiritual insight. Before Jesus embarked on His earthly ministry, He went on a 40-day fast to subdue His flesh and strengthen the power of the Holy Spirit within Him.
When you get in an atmosphere of fasting, praying and listening to God, you’re giving Him an opportunity to speak. You’re making room for Him to move and change things.
In fact, if you enter into a spiritual fast by the leading of the Holy Spirit, you’ll often find that in the process of fasting, you’re not even hungry because your spirit man has become the dominant force. Your body just can’t scream as loud because your spirit is in control. That’s why when Jesus fasted for 40 days, He only “afterward was hungry.”
To learn more about how to fast and different types of spiritual fasting, see this Checklist for Fasting.
The fact that fasting subdues your flesh so you can better hear from God can be all you need for breakthrough. Kenneth Copeland says, “Fasting shuts down the influence of the body, so the spirit man can dominate. As you stay in The WORD and in fellowship with God, you will not be flesh-ruled. You will glorify God in your body.”
2. Fasting Brings Revelation
“Then [when you have fasted] your light will break out like the dawn, and you will be healed quickly.” –Isaiah 58:8 (CEB)
When you fast, “your light” (your revelation) will break through. What is the light of God? “The teaching of your word gives light…” (Psalm 119:130). In other words, when you fast, you will begin to receive things from the light of His Word because fasting brings revelation. God will give you revelation, new insight and understanding—all of which will strengthen your faith to receive from Him.
Fasting helps you to tune in to the spirit realm where healing and all of your inheritance already belong to you. Spiritual fasting will shut down the influences of the five physical senses, so you can walk in the spirit. Your healing, your victory, your strength, your faith and the power of God are all in the spirit.
So, when you fast, you prepare your spirit to receive revelation. It may be to understand something from the Word which you know God has been trying to reveal to you, but you haven’t been able to grasp. Fasting brings revelation, and that should one of the rewards of fasting you seek.
Be sure when you are seeking the Lord for revelation about a particular situation, you aren’t seeking to influence Him to do something for you. You do not fast to impress God. Fasting doesn’t change God—it changes you!
When you fast, expect to hear from God—expect revelation from Him—a great reward. As you do this, remember that fasting is laying things aside just to be with God. You don’t always have to fast food, either.* You can fast from your smartphone or the newspaper. Some people set aside coffee, desserts, television or social media—these are wonderful things to set aside. It is amazing how much peace comes into your life when you quit watching secular television!
If you lay these things aside every day for a week, and spend that time in the Word of God instead, you will see a transformation in your life. You may even find that you create a new habit—a lifestyle of fasting—that leads to victories you never imagined possible.
Gloria Copeland once shared about a time of fasting while she was on a trip where she would normally enjoy desserts:
“I said, ‘I’m not going to watch secular television, I’m not going to watch the news, I’m not going to read the newspaper, and I’m not going to eat desserts.’ I’m telling you, you would have been amazed at the wonderful desserts that I saw on that trip. We would stop at the worst-looking truck stop to get gas, and they would have homemade carrot cake, homemade coconut cake, homemade lemon icebox pies, and just a little bit of sugar would have been so nice. But you know, you get to where you don’t want those things, and after a few days, my taste for it did not really come back.”
That’s a great example of how you train your flesh. Eventually, you’ll find your desire for what you’ve fasted will subside. God wants us to get to where our desire is not for anything but Him. He wants us to enjoy life—but He wants to be first place.
3. Fasting Leads to Deliverance
“Is this not the fast I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness….”—Isaiah 58:6 (KJV)
We have been delivered from the power of darkness through the sacrifice of Jesus. The price has been paid. If there is any oppressive yoke, the believer can and should be free of it. Yet, anyone failing to receive deliverance from bondage is being held back by one thing—unbelief.
This is what happened to Jesus’ first disciples. Jesus had given them power to cast out the devil (Luke 10:19), and they even experienced some of that power (verse 17). But in Mark 9:28, we find them stumped by a particularly tough situation when they were unable to drive a demon out of a young boy. When they later asked Jesus why they had failed, He said, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting” (verse 29, NKJV).
Now fasting, in this instance, would not have changed God or His will concerning the boy. But it would have changed the disciples. Jesus had already directed the disciples to cast the demon out. That demon was undoubtedly stubborn, and when he resisted, the disciples slipped into unbelief. Had they been fasting and praying, they would have been strong in the spirit, and they would have been able to do what Jesus did—cast the demon out! (See John 14:12.)
If you’re born again and you begin to face a temptation to submit to darkness, start fasting and praying. Get into every Holy Ghost meeting you can find until you get enough of the Word of God in you to separate you from the things that are trying to pull you back.
Keep in mind—it’s not the fasting itself that brings the deliverance, but spiritual fasting leads to deliverance. Jesus has already obtained deliverance through the completed work of Redemption. The Holy Spirit who lives inside you knows how to pray in order to bring the deliverance. Fasting simply brings the spirit man, which is in union with the Holy Spirit, into ascendance over the flesh. It also limits the influence of the physical appetites, so you can more effectively hear from and respond to the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps you have been praying for unsaved family members. You may feel that there should be more you can do to see them converted. Your fast may be undertaken as a time of special intercession. In this case, you are not trying to motivate God to save them. He has been trying to do that for years. You are simply making a faith connection with the Father, giving Him the opportunity and the faith to get that job accomplished. Establish that as your reward.
This is also true of a proclaimed fast. Declare the purpose of the fast and that will be the reward.
A Word of Caution
As you embark on the quest for the rewards of fasting, be sure you have met the conditions required to see results. Before you begin a spiritual fast, get rid of all strife, gossip, or anything else that is out of the love walk. You must be operating in the love of God to see results from a fast. These conditions prevent Satan from coming in and destroying the effectiveness of the fast. If you are not operating in love, your fasting will not profit you.
Are you ready to receive the rewards of fasting? Fasting subdues the flesh, fasting brings revelation, and fasting leads to deliverance. Fasting unto God is worth the sacrifice! Take the time to get before God. Separate yourself from the things of the world and embark on a spiritual fast. Your rewards will be priceless!
* People who are pregnant or have health problems should consult their doctors before fasting from food. For more information, read Dr. Don Colbert’s advice on how to stay healthy while fasting.
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