A fast is holy conduct that provokes the attention of God as we turn our undivided attention to Him. The scripture teaches us that fasting is a vital part of our spiritual growth and development as a person and as a people. It is a necessary part of walking and living in the spirit of holiness and righteousness. It is also a condition that God uses to increase the measure of our spiritual authority over strongholds and spiritual principalities in heavenly places. Many in the church today do not know nor understands the principle of fasting, and consequently do not practice or exercise it in their personal or corporate life. This has weakened the body of Christ and thus has emboldened the powers of darkness.
Fasting is a consecrated or designated time to approach the Lord with humility of heart in repentance and contriteness. It is a holy time where we offer ourselves to God unreservedly. A time when deny our flesh the staples of its existence and willfully turn the appetite of our hearts to God, longing for God and desiring to know God over the appetite of our flesh. It is the exercise of our will to deny ourselves of what we crave, desire or lust for in our flesh so to embolden our spirit man and condition it to be more sensitive to the things of the Holy Spirit.
Fasts were called for many reasons:
1. For wisdom and direction from the Lord (Ezra 8:21-23, Acts 13:1-3, Acts 14:21-23)
2. For repentance and correction in the hearts of people and a nation because of sin, and returning to the Lord (Jonah 3:1-8, Nehemiah 1:1-11, Nehemiah 9:1-3, Daniel 9:3-10, Joel 2:12)
3. For spiritual breakthrough and restoration (Isaiah 58:6, Daniel 10:2-14, Zechariah 8:16-19, Matthew 17:14-21)
4. For divine intervention in an emergency situation (2Chronicles 20:1-4, Joel 1:14-20)
And there are several different fasts given to us in the scripture:
1. Partial fast – This is a fast that doesn’t remove all food from ones diet during the course of the fast, but will limit it to simple foods (i.e., fruits and vegetables, nuts and oats, etc), but removes all tasty foods and meats.
2. Normal fast – This is a fast that removes all food from one’s diet and drinks only water.
3. Absolute fast – This is a fast that removes all food and liquid from one’s diet. This is a rare fast and is observed for only a few days; three at the most, and is only found a few times in scripture.
4. Sexual fast – This is mentioned in 1Corinthians 7:3-6 and is only for husbands and wives as they agree to a pre-determined period of time to devote themselves to the Lord and prayer.
We must fully understand that fasting is not just the removal of food and liquid from our diet for a set period of time, but that it is a time of prayer; seeking the Lord; confessing and repenting of sin your life; lifting up our requests and supplications to Him; pressing into the Lord for His wisdom, restoration, deliverance and healing. Take the time that you would normally use to eat to instead pray; read your bible; turn some praise and worship music on and have your own singing session with Him; meditate on Him and your thankfulness for His mercy and grace on your life; journalize the things you feel God is speaking into your heart so that you keep these things and may ponder them in your heart.