The Lord spoke to his disciples about fasting as if he expected them to do it.  He said, “When ye fast,” not “If you fast.”  Fasting is very important in our relationship with the Lord.

In Est 4:15-17, Esther and her maidens and Mordecai and all the Jews in Shushan fasted for three days to beg God to intervene and allow Esther to have an audience with the king to spare the Jews from Haman’s wicked command.  God answered exceeding abundantly above what they asked or thought.  God’s timing was perfect.  Haman was destroyed, Mordecai was promoted and a decree was issued allowing the Jews to defend themselves.  Israel was saved.

In Jonah 3:5-10, Jonah, a backslidden preacher, was able to preach and spare Nineveh from destruction because the king of Nineveh fasted and instructed all the Ninevites to fast seeking God’s mercy after God pronounced judgment upon them.  Notice the king’s faith, humility, and confession and repentance connected with his fast.  And notice God’s merciful response.

In Matt 4:1-4 Jesus fasted when he was being tempted by the devil in the wilderness.  The devil’s first temptation was with food.  Jesus’ reply was simple, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”  By this answer he showed us that we get spiritual nourishment out of God’s words.  And we also know that when we continually eat our spiritual nourishment diminishes.  Fasting enriches Bible reading and comprehension.

So troubling are our appetites that the Lord instructed us to take drastic measures against them.  To keep from being persuaded to do something stupid while eating a meal with somebody trying to take advantage of us, we are to put a knife to our throats [Prov 23:2]!  He is not prescribing suicide, but he is telling us to do whatever it takes to keep from eating just to satisfy our appetites when they get us in trouble.

In Ps 106:14-15, God satisfied the appetites of the Jews in the wilderness when they grew weary of his supernatural nourishment.  When he did, he sent leanness in their souls.  Notice how satisfying their physical appetites diminished their spiritual appetites.  Undoubtedly, we have grown “pudgy” in our physical appetites and our spiritual appetite for Bible reading has suffered as a result.

In Ps 107:9, we see that the Lord will fill the hungry soul with goodness.  You need to fast so that you will hunger for God’s goodness.  Matt 5:6 says, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”

In Is 58:8-11 we find some direct spiritual benefits to fasting:

  • Light, 8 — clearer direction from God Ps 119:130
  • Health, 8 — a medically proven benefit of fasting
  • Righteousness, 8 — cleaning up some areas of sin
  • Glory, 8 — a life more glorifying to God 1 Cor 6:20; 1 Cor 10:31
  • Answered prayer, 9 — as in the cases of the OT saints above
  • Water, 11 — likened to the filling of the Holy Spirit Jn 7:38-39

Fasting is essential to our spiritual relationship with the Lord.   When you find yourself weakened in this relationship, you need to fast.