by Robert Dave Johnston
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For thousands of years religions worldwide have used the discipline of spiritual fasting as a means to pound on the doors of heaven for breakthrough.
The concept is that fasting weakens the body and allows the spirit to receive God's power and direction with greater intensity.
While prayer can be seen as a gunshot that helps to penetrate the spiritual world, fasting becomes the 'machine-gun' that makes the discipline even more powerful and effective.
The egoic mind, which is concerned mostly with external things, is set aside in favor of spiritual matters, which are more REAL than our three-dimensional reality.
In this page we begin a discussion on spiritual fasting from a Christian perspective, including Lent Fasting and Catholic Fasting. Use the enclosed bible-search box to look up passages as they are presented, or for your own study.
Dominate the 'Ever-Craving' Flesh
Overall, spiritual fasting centers on putting aside the domination of the flesh in favor of the spirit which, in essence, is the true source of power that can solve the problem or situation being fasted for.
Christ himself, the Scriptures say, was filled with The Holy Spirit in the River Jordan and then led to the desert where he fasted for 40 days and came face-to-face with Satan (Matthew Chapters 3 & 4).
Whether you believe this to be literal or not is irrelevant. We respect whatever your belief may be, and wish to use this passage primarily as an example of spiritual fasting and its results.
Bible scholars indicate that Christ had to first confront every human weakness BEFORE being ready for his ministry, before becoming the suitable representative for the entire human race. It could only be done through fasting... imagine that! During the desert fast, Satan offered Christ food, riches and godhood (Matthew 4).
The Spiritual World is 'More Real' Than The Physical
In every case Christ alluded to the Word of God, indicating with his refusal that there was a higher and "more real" reality than the cravings and desires we experience as human beings. This required fasting. We are not told of Christ drinking water during his time in the desert. If he did not, then that particular fast was indeed supernatural.
Moses in the Old Testament (Exodus 34:28) is said to have spent 40 days in Mount Sinai collecting the Ten Commandments, during which time he neither drank nor ate. These are supernatural examples of fasting - both with yielded huge spiritual and physical revelation. In one case, the Ten Commandments. In the other case, the readiness of Christ to start his earthly ministry.
Absolute fasting or "dry" fasting - where one does not drink or eat - can only last for a maximum of three to five days before death results from dehydration. The Apostle Paul of the New Testament converted to Christianity after being struck down from a horse by what the scriptures say was the risen Christ himself (Acts 9:3-22). Paul, the scriptures say, then went with no water or food for three days. When the three days were over, out of his eyes fell what seemed to be scales.
Seize Your Transformation
It was after this spiritual fasting experience that he changed from a hater and persecutor of Christians to one of the most powerful apostles in history, almost singlehandedly writing the entire New Testament.
We can just speculate exactly that Christ and Paul went through during their fasting. However, in both cases we can see that theend result was transformation and enhanced spiritual revelation.
What are the "scales" in your particular eyes? What are the behavior, mental or physical barriers that stand in your way? From the examples we have discussed, and from the first-hand experience of many others, it can be said that spiritual fasting is indeed a source of great power.
Spiritual Fasting and The Demonic Opposition to Freedom
In another portion of the Scriptures, this one in the Old Testament, The Prophet Daniel fasts for 21 days and does not receive an answer until the last day (Daniel 10).
At that point, the scriptures say, the Archangel Michael appeared to Daniel and told him he had been heard since the first day he had started to fast. But that Demonic Powers had stood in the way and a battle had ensued.
I have read commentaries that say this points to the ongoing fight between good and evil which translates, in our case, to the struggle between the flesh and the spirit.The Apostle Paul in the New Testament calls himself a "wretched man" (Romans 7) because he says he "did what he did not want to do and failed to do that which he knew was right". We are not going to get into any type of theological debate here, but it appears that whatever Paul was battling did not have an evident "human" solution.
Who Fasted and Why?
* In the Old Testament, the Jews Fasted to seek God's help in threats or times of war (nation in general), when loved ones were sick (David), in seeking God's forgiveness for themselves and their nation (Ahab, Daniel), and in seeking God's protection and His will (Ezra). Just look up the term, Fasting, in a concordance and observe the abundance of references (Lev 16:29-31; 23:26-32; Num. 29:7; Psalm 69:10; Acts 27:9)
* Moses, Elijah, and Jesus all Fasted for 40 days. The Bible records that Spiritual Fasting was not just for the super leaders, rather it was practiced by most, such as during the Judges (Deut 9:15-18; Jug. 20:26; 1 Kings 21:27).
(The Absolute Fasting Moses and The Prophet Elijah did MUST have had divine assistance - Deut. 9:9; 1 Kings 19:8).
* Israel Fasted at Bethel, in the war against the Benjamites at Mizpah, and in the Philistine war (Judg. 20:26; 1 Sam 7:6).
* In the book of Ruth, the Jews Fasted when they heard that Haman had tricked the king into wiping them out (Esther 4:3-16).
* David Fasted for Saul and his friend Jonathan, and wept for both his son while he was dying, and for his enemies (2 Sam. 1:12; 2 Sam. 12:16-23; Psalm 35:11-13).
* Daniel Fasted for Israel (Dan. 9:3-5).
* Fasting accompanied prayer, devotion to God (Psalm 35:13), penance (1 Kings 21:27), and seeking God earnestly (2 Sam. 1:12).
* The effects of Spiritual Fasting with prayer, when it is real and heartfelt, is that it humbles (Psalm 35:13), disciplines and corrects wrong behaviors and thinking (Psalm 69:10), and God is more likely to respond to our prayers. (Ezra 8:21-23)
* In the New Testament, Spiritual Fasting was practiced when one was faced with temptations (Jesus), in serving God and beginning a new ministry (Antioch), and, when selecting and appointing elders (Matt. 4:1-2).
* John the Baptist performed spiritual fasting regularly as a testimony to piety that was real, heartfelt, and pointed to God, not to himself (Matt. 3:11).
* Paul listed spiritual fasting among other things that proved he was a minister of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1; 2 Cor. 11:23-28).
* The early church practiced spiritual Fasting as they further sought God's Will, drawing them deeper into His presence (Acts 13:2-3; 14:21-23).
Physical Benefits of Spiritual Fasting
Looking at the physical benefits of spiritual fasting, Daniel the prophet at one point dares the King of Babylon to let him eat only water and vegetables for ten days and at the end of that period compare his appearance to that of others who ate meat and other fatty foods (Daniel 1:12).
Scriptures indicate that at the end of the ten days the king was amazed to see that Daniel and his friends looked younger and healthier than all the others.
So notable was the difference that the king actually decided at that point to change the menu altogether and put everyone on water and vegetables.
Juice fasting is precisely that - water, fruits and vegetables.
Spiritual Fasting Helps To Cleanse AND Heal Emotional Toxicity
If there is something that we often struggle with in life is our minds. Poisonous thoughts filled with pessimism, pride as well as sadness, depression and anger, among many others. Who doesnt go through this from time to time?
Would you not agree that a great portion of what we think is based on half-truths, outright lies and perceptional distortions? Indeed, it is our minds which cause us most of the heartache and suffering that we go through. If the mind could be described as a lens, I can tell you that, very often, mine is very blurry.
All of the memories and pain from childhood balled-up in a barage of mental toxicity that attacks us day after day after day. Some days are good. In others, however, I feel totally out of sorts . almost insane in many ways.
Well, the good news is that there is relief through spiritual fasting. A couple of months ago, I came home to find my bedroom close flooded almost all the way to the living room. I have three cats, and they were all drenched. I think they had one heck of a party. At any rate, it turned out that the main A/C unit (located right above the closet) was leaking.
Fearing a very expensive repair, I went to the hardware store and was told I probably had a clog in the main A/C that leads to the backyard. It had to be suctioned to release whatever sludge was interrupting the flow of water and thus causing the lead.
So I had to purchase a wet/dry vaccum and, together with a friend, went to the backyard (at night with a flashligt) to stick the hose from the wet vacin the tiny outlet where the A/C water was discharged onto the grass. Then we turned on the machine and the suctioning started.
I opened the top of the wet vac and saw that it was empty. Nothing had come out. I turned on the vac again for like thirty seconds and then rechecked the discharge compartment. Still empty. So it went for like three more tries. It was getting to the point that I was thinking maybe there wasnt a clog. Oh, no it may be something more serious, I thought. I was ready to call it quits, but my friend said: No wait lets give it another try and let it run a bit longer.
I had nothing to lose. Besides, I did NOT want to pay hundreds of dollars for a repair. I was praying for a miracle. Then we tunred the wet-vac on once more. It hummed for like 30 seconds just like before. Then, out of nowhere, we heard a loud BUZZ!!! kind of like when a shredder. A few seconds later I turned off the wet-vac and opened the compartment to see if anything had come out. And indeed it had.
A real thick, horrible sludge had been expelled and it stank to high heaven. It was disgusting. Who knows how many years that has been inside the A/C system, huh, my friend said. Yeah, right, I thought. That filthy slime was in there all along, but it took repeated attempts and persistence to get it sucked out and cleaned once and for all. Is that not so much like our minds? I say, yes! We need to regularly detox our minds just as much as our bodies.
Spiritual Fasting can help us do that. It cuts deep into our souls and makes way so that all of the emotional sludge can come out. The breakthrough may not happen after your first, second or even third try. But if you are persistent, and if you place God at the center of each of your fasts, I can tell you that sooner rather than later you will experience moments of intense mental/emotional healing.
That includes conscious as well as sub-conscious thoughts, paradigms and belief systems. If you have ever had thoughts like I am not good enough, I am a failure, I cant make it , then you know just how debilitating these can be.
Overcoming The Mental & Emotional OnslaughtAnd there are many out there living lives of quiet desperation, tormented by negativity and feeling unable to overcome the onslaught.
It is important for you to be aware that at first the spiritual fasting healing process could be very stinky and possibly painful. But then, when one least expects it, the emotional obstruction yields and a deep sense of peace and inner silence starts to take over.
I can vividly recall the moment the scales fell of my eyes for the first time. It was as if time and space no longer existe. I had a profound feeling that God had completely taken over my life and that I had to do nothing except allow HIM to show me all things. In other words, I did not have to carry the weight of my existence in my shoulders.
All I had to do was stay in the now and God would make sure that I was led to all things, shown all things and that I would be taken to everyone I had to meet or they would be brought to me.
I no longer had to obsess and try to control everything to make sure that things turned out well. The only expectation was that I trust God and let go of my own notion and concept of who I was supposed to be. My self esteem was transformed because I realized that it was not up to me to decide how much I was worth. God had already done that and HE was the one that gave me my worthiness.
To me this was huge because all my life I had been plagued with severe depression and marked feelings of inferiority and inadequacy. I can write pages and pages and pages about this emotional experience, but you get the idea.
Washed Clean of The Inner Pain
And it all came to me WHILE PRACTICING SPIRITUAL FASTING!
I came to the realization that God truly loved me, and that I needed nothing else whatsoever in this life. I was whole and complete in God period. Those thoughts echoed through my entire being. It felt like the dross in my soul that had kept the line clogged was sucked out by Gods very hand. At that time, it started to rain. Rather than run for shelter, I just stood there and let the water hit me.
A drizzle turned into a downpour and I remained there, being washed clean of all of the emotional/mental garbage that had kept me a prisioner my whole life. I have had my moments of despair and sadness just like we all do from time to time. But that thick, black cloud of madness that had been with me for 35 years is gone. As of this writing, it was been almost ten years since my last binge. Praise God for His faithfulness and Thank God for fasting!
Spiritual Fasting quiets the mind. In the silence, we are able to study our way of thinking in ways that are normally not possible. All of the negativity and self-defeating belief systems become clearer. The emotional sludge comes out with great fury like when a cork is removed from a champagne bottle. While we are fasting, the body taps into stored fat for energy.
Body Toxicity and EmotionsAnd within the fat is the very worst of the toxins in our bodies, so these poisons get released into the blood. This causes many of us to have thoughts of fear, failure, discouragement and a lack of faith. Emotions from our childhood re-emerge as well as painful memories related to people, places and things. We come face-to-face with the real enemy within.
Unfortunately, there are those who mistakenly believe they are getting worse and thus break the fast. Worse yet, they immediately return to binging and poor eating to medicate. Rather than help, however, this reinforces the destructive cycle and recloses the prison door.
But, if one is able to stick it out and not give up, spiritual fasting brings an internal wisdom, discernment and awareness that is simply remarkable. And this is NOT just me saying. I have heard countless testimonies of the same inner liberation ocurring to many other fellow fasters.
Better yet, it can happen to you too!
The Quest For Mind RenewalWe have talked a lot in this website about the strength and willpower needed to get through the physical challenges that come with spiritual fasting. Now I am telling you that the time has arrived to discipline your mind. When spiritual fasting, spend as much time imagining your life exactly as you want it to be. Offer your vision in prayer before God. When negativity comes, immediately return to a white screen in your minds eye.
Cut yourself off from the negativity and reinforce all that is positive and desirable. Keep a spiritual fasting journal and write on it daily. If you are painstaking about your healing and transformation, amazing things will come to pass in your thought/emotional life. And change from the inside is the only one that will ensure the permanence of what you accomplish outside.
Let us now continue on to the Christian Fasting page to look more closely at this discipline from a biblical perspective. When you have time, you can also visit the Fasting and The Mind page to read how the mind can react when one is fasting.
Return from Spiritual Fasting to Fasting for Weight Loss HOME.
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