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The Importance of Fasting

When we fast, we turn from the things that daily grab our attention, and we focus solely on God.

  • Author: Bill Bright
  • Published: November 1, 1997

Throughout my walk with the Lord these past 50 years, He has blessed me with a marvelous family, a dynamic ministry that keeps growing for His glory, and a staff team that is greater than all the words I could possibly write. He has showered me with so many good things that it is beyond my ability to adequately respond. Certainly among them is the Templeton Prize I received at the hands of Prince Philip and Sir John Templeton in Buckingham Palace in May 1996.

All of the proceeds from the Templeton Prize, more than $1 million, have been designated to encourage and equip millions of Christians around the world to join us in fasting and prayer for world revival. Using those funds to emphasize spiritual renewal through fasting with prayer will do more to help fulfill the Great Commission--to introduce large numbers of people to Christ, and teach them to win and disciple others--than any other investment we could make.

After 45 years of emphasizing evangelism, discipleship and fulfillment of the Great Commission, some may think I have gone off on a tangent with my strong emphasis on fasting and prayer. The fact is that the best way to help individuals become evangelists for Christ is to bring them into a relationship with God in which the Holy Spirit renews them. Only fasting meets the criteria of each aspect of 2 Chronicles 7:14: "If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (New International Version). When you humble yourself and pray and seek God's face and turn from your wicked ways, something happens to you and you get excited about the Lord in a way that you do not through any other means.

How does fasting humble us?

First, Christians who fast say that it sharpens and sensitizes their spiritual faculties to become more in tune with what God is doing throughout the world. God is waiting to bless you and use you in unprecedented ways as you respond to His prompting to make fasting and prayer a vital part of your life.

Second, fasting results in a greater intimacy with and a deeper enthusiasm for God, which in turn spills over into every other area of life. The joy of the Lord becomes much more visible to others, and the motivation to witness is greater. Fasting and prayer will do more to prepare millions throughout the world for revival than anything else we can do.

Third, fasting prepares us for a spiritual harvest. Today people throughout the world are hungry for the gospel. I have been a believer since 1944, and I can assure you that God is doing a great and powerful work, unprecedented in this century. This is most definitely a remarkable time of harvest. Doors of opportunity are opening all over the world, and God's people are responding to the call in great numbers. More people are hearing the gospel and coming to know the Lord today than ever before in the history of the human race.

Fasting forces us to depend solely on God. C.S. Lewis wrote in his book Letters to an American Lady:

"It is a dreadful truth that the state of (as you say) 'having to depend solely on God' is what we all dread most. And of course that just shows how very much, how almost exclusively, we have been depending on things. But trouble goes so far back in our lives and is now so deeply ingrained, we will not turn to Him as long as He leaves us anything else to turn to. . . . Perhaps when those moments come, they will feel happiest who have been forced (however unwittingly) to begin practicing it here on earth. It is good of Him to force us; but dear me, how hard to feel that it is good at the time."

When we fast, we turn from the "things" that daily grab our attention and focus deeply on Him. During that time, we come to realize how much food and the things of this world are occupying our thoughts, time, activities and finances. Some may realize, too, that they have been famished for spiritual food.

Could it be that you are surviving spiritually on bread and water? Are you willing to boldly turn from human interests and pleasures for a time? Of course, there may be nothing wrong with the television shows we watch, magazines we read, shopping, sports, or even the myriad of church social activities that occupy our time. The point is, are we willing to lay them down for a period of time, perhaps as long as 40 days, and focus on our loving Redeemer, our Protector and Provider, our Lord and King?

As we fast, God will show us the areas in our lives that we keep off limits to Him and the ways we seek to control our lives rather than let Him lead us. Any coldness in our hearts melts during a fast, and we become transformed and empowered to walk in His ways.

While you fast, dedicate as much time as possible to communing with the Lord. It is unwise to fast unless you can arrange your schedule to spend special time with the Lord each day. For some it may be necessary to maintain a busy schedule during a fast. While this is not ideal, the Lord honors the heart that seeks and serves Him. Whenever possible, clear your daily schedule of any optional activities. Use meal times to worship the Lord and wait on Him. Pray during the night hours if the Lord awakens you. These quiet, undistracted times can open the way for you to hear his voice in a special way.

A person usually has greater clarity during a fast, and sees spiritual needs and comprehends God's Word on a deeper level. As we make extra time for God by meditating on Bible passages, reading other inspiring materials and opening ourselves to more intimate communion with Him throughout the day, a richer experience in prayer will begin to permeate our thoughts.

Are you longing for more of God and less of yourself? Are you willing to open your heart and mind to His call to fast and pray for personal revival that will revolutionize our churches and cities, and result in a revival in our beloved country? Will America once again believe "In God We Trust"? Will the outcry of the church in this nation force the long-standing evils of prejudice and greed to be exposed and eradicated?

I fully expect that the Great Commission will be fulfilled in my lifetime. As God's people get right with Him through fasting with prayer and become motivated to seek the lost for Christ--to change their homes, their churches, schools and local governments--I am sure God will honor those efforts. He will hear from heaven, forgive our sin and heal our land as He promised.

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