I was aiming for some clear outcomes to answer the question: “what can fasting achieve?” Lots of How-To-Fast books made statements about outcomes that fasting could apparently be used for:
Fasting can be used to receive...
If you fast, it can be used to ask for…
Fasting can be used to increase your…
I looked at a bunch of biblical examples where people fasted. What did they want to accomplish? What kind of breakthroughs were they were aiming for? Did they achieve their desired outcome? And how did they do it? How can we copy their pattern?
I think I expected that a “fasting cookbook” would emerge. That there would be some fasting “recipes” for things that we deal with in life, like:
But the expression “fasting can be used to…”, wouldn’t leave my mind. It seemed inappropriate and wouldn’t settle with me. The word “use” started to glare an exposing light at a strange attempt to influence God. It seemed even manipulative. It’s as if someone would say:
Worship can be “used” to access God’s presence so that some benefit comes to you.
As in, "I’ll sing some songs to God before asking Him to provide finances or heal my sick relative, because I know that God likes those things. If I make Him happy then He will answer my prayers."
That seemed so wrong. I know better. We worship the Father simply to declare His goodness and praise His worth. I mean, at an exciting football game, the crowd stands up and cheers spontaneously because of the value of a good play, not for anything they get out of their cheers.
I recalled a fast by Daniel. After setting his heart to fast, the angel appears in Daniel 10:12 saying:
“…from the first day you set your heart on understanding and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard.”
When Daniel set his heart to fast before God, his goal was: to know & understand the father, and to humble himself before God. That’s not a formula. That’s an authentic relationship.
A Fast that Defined Dependence
I immediately thought of Jesus fasting in the wilderness (Matthew 4). The entire fast of Jesus is all about dependence on the Father.
Fasting is physical declaration of dependence on the Father.
It is a connection into the spiritual that says:
“I’m dependent on you for my very life”.
Speaking of fasting in Joel 2:12, God says: "Turn to ME with all of your heart, with fasting, with weeping and with mourning." The whole call by our Father was for the people to reestablish a dependent focus on the Father. Turn to ME!
An authentic and healthy love relationship isn’t about what you GET from the other person. Spiritual maturity is about developing an increasingly full dependence on the Father. I’m convinced that total dependence flows out of healthy relationship.
Fasting is intentional recognition that we are dependent on, and in relationship with, our Father in heaven. It’s about putting down the flesh, so that relationships, pleasures, activities, desired outcomes, and things on this earth don’t dominate His presence and voice.
I encourage you guys to keep developing your fasting-lifestyle! Remember, fasting isn’t about food at all, really. It’s a declaration of dependence on the Father.
Much love! Nathan