If you’ve considered fasting but are not sure about its purpose, looking to the Bible reveals some surprising stories concerning fasting and its remarkable results. Scripture gives us examples of individuals like Daniel, Moses, and Jesus, who turned to fasting for powerful breakthroughs in their lives. Jesus urges us as well to set times aside to fast (Matthew 6:17).
Through practice and study of God’s word, we discover fasting is more than just abstaining from food, but also involves humbling one’s self before God. Biblical examples help us understand why and how we should fast.
Below are 4 Scriptures for powerful breakthroughs focusing on fasting for preparation, understanding, facing temptation, and God’s mercy.
Fasting Prayer For Preparing Your Heart:
Scripture describes how individuals fasted in preparation for fulfilling God’s purpose and calling in their lives, such as Moses, who was called by God to deliver His people out of Egypt.
Exodus 34:28 describes how he fasted during one of the most significant times in his life. “Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tables the words of the covenant–the Ten Commandments.”
Luke 4:1 describes how Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit” when he entered the wilderness to be tempted. And Luke 4:14 describes the results of how He walked out of the wilderness after forty days of fasting “in the power of the Spirit.”
Fasting Prayer For Wisdom:
The Old Testament follows Daniel’s experience in seeking understanding for a vision he received from God. “I, Daniel, was worn out. I lay exhausted for several days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding” (Daniel 8:27). Daniel 9:3 explains his efforts to find it. “So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes prayed to the Lord my God and confessed.” As he did, God sent the angel Gabriel with a message. “He instructed me and said to me, ‘Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision” (Daniel 9:22,23). Like Daniel, we can turn to fasting and prayer to receive understanding beyond our abilities to comprehend.
Fasting Prayer For Resisting Temptation:
All of us face temptation in life. Even Jesus was tempted in the wilderness and is our example of how to face it. Matthew 4:1 describes, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry.”
Like Satan tempted Eve in the garden with food (Genesis 3:1-3), he first tempted Jesus with food, too. “The tempter came to Him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’ Jesus answered, ‘It is written; “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:3-4).
Although Eve could eat from every tree in the garden except one in order to obey God, (Genesis 3:2), she gave into temptation and ate from it (Genesis 3:6). Unlike Eve who had plenty to eat, Jesus was without food in the wilderness. Yet, through fasting and obeying God’s word, He resisted temptation and defeated the scheme of the evil one.
Fasting Prayer For Mercy:
Scripture describes times where God was moved by fasting. So much so, instead of sending judgment, He granted mercy. One such account involved King Ahab. “(There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the Lord drove out before Israel.)” (1 Kings 21:25-26) Yet, when the Prophet Elijah delivered a message from God to Ahab, of His anger and the calamity to come, Ahab tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted (1 Kings 21:27). When he did, God noticed how he had humbled himself before Him, and because Ahab humbled himself, God did not send the disaster upon him (1 Kings 21:28).
Even the most wretched of sinners can move the heart of God to receive mercy, by humbling themselves through fasting.
Another remarkable story is found in Jonah 1:1-2, where God asked Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach against it because of its wickedness before God. Unlike his previous experience where he ran away and ended up inside a whale, this time he obeyed. Jonah preached of the coming judgment to the city of Nineveh (Jonah 3:4), to which they responded from the greatest to the least, by believing God, fasting, and putting on sackcloth (Jonah 3:5).
As the story goes, “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He relented and did not bring on them the destruction He had threatened” (Jonah 3:10).