With the start of the new year, many Christians are taking time to fast and pray for God’s direction for the months ahead. Many are doing a Daniel Fast, which excludes ‘pleasant food’ like sugar, meat, bread, and caffeine. The inspiration for this type of fast comes from the life of Daniel (Daniel 10: 2,3) the Jewish captive in Babylon who became Prime Minister under several emperors.
BIBLICAL EXAMPLES OF FASTING
Esther – When the Jewish people were about to be killed by an evil decree, Esther called a fast before she went to ask for mercy from the king. She announced: “…gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same.” (Esther 4:16)
The people of Nineveh – After Jonah preached a message of God’s coming judgment and destruction of Nineveh, the whole city fasted. “The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow.” (Jonah 3:5)
Food brings pleasure, strength, and comfort. When we fast, we deny ourselves these and become more aware that our true pleasure, strength, and comfort are found in the Lord alone.
We are warned to not put any confidence in our flesh (Philippians 3:3), but it’s so easy to forget that commandment when we are at the peak of our strength and enjoying every good and pleasant thing. When we fast, we choose to become weak and to focus on the power of our inner man which comes from the Holy Spirit.
In Psalm 69:10 King David says, “…I humbled my soul with fasting…” Some translations use the words disciplined and chastened. Some even say, “…I wept in my soul with fasting…” God really hates pride, and He resists those who operate in it. (James 4:6, I Peter 4:5) Because pride is a sin that’s so very easy to fall into, fasting is a way for us to put our pride in check and rid ourselves of the arrogance that comes so naturally.