Day 15: The Power of Fasting
Monday, February 21, 2022
As we begin our final week of prayer and fasting, we will continue to explore both the life and lifestyle of Jesus. Our goal is not just to hear what he taught but to do what he did. Living this way is inherently unnatural to us and antithetical to our fast-paced modern and digital world. We can’t live this way on our own. Simply put, we need the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit to live life like Jesus!
Fortunately for us, God longs to empower and guide us into this kind of life. God has given us all we need to live a godly life (2 Peter 1:3). This is where fasting comes in. Breaking free of that which has a hold on us, whether it’s spiritually, emotionally, or practically, requires some spiritual “oomph.” That is just what happens when we fast. We increase our dependence on God by replacing food—or whatever we choose to fast from—with more prayer.
We will continue exploring the habits of Jesus this week, looking at how he modeled simplicity and slowing down. Fasting requires both. Let’s look at what Jesus has to say about it.
Mark 9:25-29; Matthew 6:16-18
“When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit. ‘Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,’ he said. ‘I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!’
Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd as people said, ‘He’s dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up.
Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, ‘Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?’
Jesus replied, ‘This kind can be cast out only by prayer and fasting.’” (Mark 9:25-29)
“And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18)
In Mark 9:25-29, we learn an important truth about fasting and prayer: it is powerful. If you read the entire story in Mark 9, Jesus’ disciples tried and failed to cast a demon out of the boy in the story. Jesus had to step in and do it for them. Talk about embarrassing!
We learn in Mark 9:29 that to do what Jesus did, prayer and fasting are a sort of prerequisite. The disciples couldn’t do what they needed to do at the moment because they had not devoted themselves fully to prayer and fasting. Doing so takes time, energy, and attention. These are the most important resources we have. While we tend to associate resources with money, it’s that which has our time, energy, and attention that controls us. At times, we must slow down and empty our schedules to seek God and receive all we need from Him to experience life His way.
Fasting is not easy, especially when we are new to it. There is much spiritual breakthrough that can occur when we sacrifice our wants and needs to pursue greater intimacy with God in this way. When we fast, we are making space for something more/better. We want to be intentional about filling that space with Jesus.
Resist the temptation to use your fasting as an opportunity to make yourself look good. Your fasting plan doesn’t need to be shared publicly. Don’t tell more than a handful of people that you’re doing it. Instead, focus on giving God glory for helping you do it. The greatest reward of fasting is deeper intimacy with God. That is what we seek first. We can know He is faithful to hear us and respond when we do.
Focus your heart on being seen by God, not by people. Spend time thanking God for seeing you and being with you. In your heart, draw near to Him and enjoy being with Him. Then, pray for spiritual breakthrough in the areas of need for you and those close to you. Breakthroughs follow intimacy, so seek both!
Prayer: “Jesus, I seek to live as you lived. That means needing to slow down more than I usually do to create space for you to fill me. During this time of prayer and fasting, I long to know you more before anything else. I want my heart to be formed to be like yours. Thank you that you are with me, guiding me and giving me the power I can’t create myself. As I draw closer to you, I pray you will help me break free of any sin and struggles I carry. I surrender it all to you. I need you with me to do all you have called me to do. Amen.”
By Dave Mann
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