If you are curious about the benefits of fasting and prayer, I’m glad you are seeking answers to your questions. We have learned what humility is and its importance while fasting in Part 1 of this series. We have also learned that Jesus expects His followers to fast as necessary in Part 2.
Part 3 in the Series of Prayer and Fasting
10 Powerful Benefits of Fasting and Prayer
Jesus taught us the importance of fasting for Christians today. When we are humble before God, spiritual benefits will follow.
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In this post, we will look at
Biblical Definition of Fasting
A Biblical definition of fasting is going without food or sustenance for a specific period of time. In some Biblical examples, God instructed His people to go without food and water, including the animals. Their obedience was to accomplish a specific end result.
Today, when we talking about fasting, we voluntarily go without food, drinking water only.
Isaiah 58:1-14 tells of the kind of fast that God has chosen. The Hebrews understood the term “afflict thy soul” (Isaiah 58:5) to mean going without food.
There are many people who are unable to abstain from food for medical reasons. They choose to deny themselves something else of value to them such as fasting television or fasting social media.
Since fasting involves humility and the attitude of our hearts, the abstinence we choose should bring us closer to God as we trust Him during this fasting period.
Also, I should mention that fasting for the purpose of weight loss or weight management is not the focus of this post. Neither is it the Biblical definition of fasting.
When weight loss is the goal of fasting, your thoughts will be focused on the lack of food and your daily weight rather than focused on God through prayer.
10 Benefits of Fasting and Prayer
Food is necessary for life. We need nourishment for energy and strength. You go without food too long, you can get sick and die.
Fasting is not a death sentence. Going without food can be. The difference is in your choice. Food is available but you choose not to eat, or food is not available when you need to eat. It’s a heart thing.
When we are fasting for spiritual breakthroughs in our lives, we will reap benefits that we may not expect.
1 – Deeper Intimacy with God
Fasting and prayer will deepen our relationship with God and when we willingly give up food to spend time with Him, we will develop a deeper intimacy with Him.
David longed for the presence of God as He cried night and day, Psalm 42:1-3, and again in Psalm 63:1-11, we see how he longed for God.
In our time of fasting and prayer, we will have that deeper intimacy with God.
2 – Answers to Fervent Prayer
Sometimes we do not see the results we are seeking in our regular prayers. While we cannot control or manipulate God to answering our prayers the way we want, God will see your heart and respond according to His plan.
Now, understand that God does answer earnest and fervent prayer without the fasting of food.
However, there are times when the fervent prayer goes hand in hand with the added boost of fasting before God. You may have an unusual request that you are seeking an answer for. Whether you are fasting and praying regularly, you always have access to Christ, Romans 5:2; Ephesians 2:18; 3:12.
3 – Develop Humility before God
Fasting food for any length of time is humbling. We need food to survive. So when believers voluntarily “afflict their soul” with the fasting of food, they are humbling themselves. When the attitude of your heart is one of truly seeking God, He will see your motive and respond to your heart’s cry.
Developing humility is a recognition of who you are in relation to God. He is sovereign and mighty, just and righteous. Yet, He is merciful and gracious, kind and loving.
Approaching God with a reverent heart as you voluntarily give up the necessity of life (your food), God will respond as He said in 2 Chronicles 7:14.
4 – Gain Wisdom and Understanding
King Solomon wrote much about the importance of gaining wisdom and understanding. These two things go hand in hand. The Book of Proverbs will teach you much about wisdom, as will spending time in God’s presence.
When Daniel sought the LORD for help, he fasted for 21 days to gain understanding and wisdom for his situation. Daniel 10:12; 14 tells us that God heard Daniel’s heart and saw his humility in fasting and sent the angel to help him understand.
As you spend time in fasting and prayer, believe that God will give you wisdom and understanding. Not only in the thing you are praying for but also for every area of your life. He will give you a clear mind and better understanding.
5 – Authority over Demonic Strongholds
You may be fasting to break the devil’s strongholds in areas of your life or others. While strongholds can be broken through commanding the evil spirits along with using the name of Jesus, fasting can add more spiritual power to the breaking of strongholds.
Some strongholds are stronger than others, meaning that they may have been nagging the believer much longer than others, or, they are stronger simply because the evil spirits are stronger.
Either way, fasting and prayer will equip you in breaking the bonds of wickedness, Isaiah 58:6. And, as Jesus said in Mark 9:29, sometimes fasting is required to cast out certain kinds of demons.
Through deep fervent prayer, we can avail much over demonic strongholds. When we fast, we add a spiritual weapon to our prayers that will break the bonds of wickedness and break the heavy yoke, Isaiah 58:6.
Remember this verse in Zechariah 4:6, …Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.
6 – Repentance and Salvation
Jonah 3:4-10 tells when Jonah reluctantly obeyed God and gave the people of Nineveh the message from God…to repent of their wicked ways. That message resulted in the entire city repenting before God. Their change of heart caused God to spare them for 100 years.
You may be earnestly seeking salvation for loved ones through times of fasting and prayer. The result may be immediate, soon after or even weeks or months later but God will answer. He desires that all be saved unto eternal life (John 3:16) so such a prayer is in accordance with God’s will.
You may also want to read 7 Benefits of Biblical Fasting: How to Fast the Right Way by Kelly R Baker who gives fasting tips to help you get started.
7 – Personal Victories in Your Life
Another of the many benefits of fasting and prayer is receiving personal victories in your own life. You may be praying for self-control or self-discipline in a certain area of your life and soon after your time of fasting, you may begin to notice the victory in that area.
While we are not perfect, we are also not powerless. Developing a habit of regular fasting will increase our awareness of our personal weaknesses and allow us to pray for victory in those areas.
James 4:1-10 reminds us that our bodies want what it wants but we have the Spirit of God living in us to help us overcome the temptations we face. In this passage, we are told to submit to God, resist the devil, draw close to God, humble yourself in God’s sight and He will lift you up.
8 – Gaining Heaven’s Perspective
Look again at Isaiah 58:1-14. From God’s perspective, He saw the outward appearance of the people fasting but their hearts were in the wrong place. They were not taking their fast seriously as they were enjoying their daily pleasures.
When we fast, God expects us to humble ourselves, 2 Chronicles 7:14, so that we can see the situation as God sees it. He sees the big picture and has a specific time for everything to be accomplished. We see with our limited vision and wonder why God isn’t answering us right away.
As we spend time seeking God in fasting and prayer, we will begin to see two things: ourselves the way He sees us and the situation we’re praying for as He sees it.
Our time spent in fasting and prayer before God will be rewarded as we see the glory of the LORD, Isaiah 58:8.
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9 – God’s Protection and Help
When we fast and pray, another benefit is receiving God’s intervention in our circumstances. We are targeted by the enemy and need God’s divine help in winning the victory.
A Biblical example is in 2 Chronicles 20:1-37 (it’s an amazing story of victory) when God’s people were under attack by the Ammonites and Moabites.
King Jehoshaphat and his people fasted before they went into battle. God said to them, 2 Chronicles 20:15, that the battle was not theirs but His. He would be with them and He would deliver them, 2 Chronicles 20:17. Their fasting and seeking God resulted in a dramatic deliverance.
Esther (Esther 4:16) and Ezra (Ezra 8:21-23) also fasted for God’s intervention and protection. You can read more about this in Is Humility Part of Fasting and Prayer?
If you want divine intervention, seek God through prayer and fasting!
10 – Commissioned to Ministry
The teachers and prophets along with several other men, in Acts 13:1-3, spent time in fasting as they sought the Lord for direction. The Holy Spirit responded with the direction to send out Barnabas and Saul for ministry to where He was calling them.
Then, if you notice in Acts 13:3, they fasted a second time before sending them out. This time they also laid hands on them before sending them out into the mission field.
It was a regular practice in the early church to fast and pray for God’s will when ordaining elders in the church. Acts 14:23 says they did this in every church which indicates that fasting was a regular practice for them.
God may be calling you into a new area of ministry. If so, it would be wise to spend time in fasting and prayer to seek His will. You may even ask others to join you as you seek God’s will for your life.
Four Kinds of Fasts
The Normal Fast
This fast is going without food for a pre-determined period during which you consume only liquids (water and/or juice).
The duration could be 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, 1 month or 40 days. If you are considering the longer fasts (1 month or 40 days or longer), it is advisable to seek medical advice.
I often practice this normal fast for shorter time periods.
Melissa Davisson of Cups to Crowns shares some great info about Types and Lengths of Fasting.
The Absolute Fast
An absolute fast is when you do not consume any food or water or liquids of any kind.
This fast is recommended for shorter time periods. If you are not Holy Spirit led to take on the Absolute Fast, you could be putting your health in danger, especially if it is for a long period of time.
I would also caution you to test the spirit that is telling to you take on the long term fast, even if it includes liquids. You should be beyond doubt that the Lord has called you to a long term Absolute Fast.
The Partial Fast
This fast omits certain foods or can be on a schedule that includes limited eating.
It could be that you fast two of the three meals a day, or that you eat only fresh raw vegetables. This is often called the Daniel Fast. If considering this fast, a fast meal is not your regular meal size. It is a handful as compared to a plateful.
The partial fast is the other one that I do at least twice a year for 10 days each. I follow a specific fast method by Dr Jordan Rubin, author of The Maker’s Diet Revolution. (This is not an affiliate link.)
The Rotational Fast
On this fast, you would consume food on a rotational basis, ie, every second day you would consume raw vegetables or every fourth day, you would eat grains and legumes. This rotation allows for some food to be available each day.
Susan Nelson of Woman of Noble Character has a great post about biblical fasting and includes the sexual fast that I didn’t mention.
God’s Chosen Fast
Fasting with prayer must be Spirit-led to be effective. If God has not called you to it, then do not do it. Just because someone else is fasting doesn’t mean that you need to fast.
A chosen fast means that God has appointed it and it is set apart for Him. It will minister to Him and will bring glory and honour to Him. The outcome will be His perfect will in your circumstances.
When you are called to pray and fast for a specific purpose, you are stating to the supernatural realm that you are earnest and sincere in desiring God’s will in your situation.
You are showing God that you will not let go of Him until you receive your answer. God sees that you are committed to the “yes” answer so keep on praying until you receive it!
When you fast, you are notifying heaven that you are committed to receiving God’s will for your situation.
Wrapping Up the Benefits of Fasting
There you go. You now know at least 10 benefits of fasting along with the four kinds of fasts that one could practice.
One more thing to remember, the goal of fasting is not simply to receive the benefits, it is primarily to draw closer to God as you petition Him with your request(s).
We will continue this series on Prayer and Fasting. Stay tuned for future posts on this topic.
Current Series Posts:
- Part 1 – Does Prayer and Fasting include Humility? Before declaring a fast, check your motive!
- Part 2 – Is Fasting Necessary for Christians Today? Learn what Jesus said about fasting and whether His followers should fasting today or not.
- Part 4 – 10 Proven Types of Fasting in the Bible. There is a difference between kind of fast and type of fast. We’ll look at 10 types of fasts that are proven and tested by well-known Biblical characters. One of these may be the type of fast for you.
- Part 5 – How to Start a Fast and The Best Way to Break a Fast. This is chock-full of good information to properly start and end a fast.
Do you fast periodically or regularly? What do you like/love about it?
Is there anything you can add about the benefits of fasting and prayer? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Cindy Barnes has been called by God in the early 80s to be a teacher of His Word. She is a serious student of the Word, focusing on the Inductive Bible Study Method since 2007. Her passion is to teach women how to study the Bible using this method. In addition, she desires for women to develop an intense yearning to draw closer to God through reading and writing out the Bible.
Cindy teaches hundreds of women in her private online Bible Study Group who express their joy of growing deeper in their spiritual walk.
You can stay in touch with Cindy on Facebook through 215 Ministry.