“And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” Matthew 17: 20-21.
Here in Mathew 17, we find Christ’s simple keys to unlock a “mountain-moving” faith that brings us closer to the omniscient God that saved us. The first is the literal definition of fasting: “the voluntarily going without food to focus on prayer and fellowship with God.” Fasting is a time to remember how helpless we are and how amazing our God is, and to show God how serious we are about finding His will for our lives. It is not a time of manipulating God to bring to pass our desires; it is simply to change our desires to His.
There is a lot in the Bible about praying and fasting. The real question is: Does it apply to Christianity today?
There is only one time in Scripture that prayer and fasting were required, and that was on the Day of Atonement (Jeremiah 36:3). But in Scripture you will see a pattern of when prayer and fasting were practiced: immediately after a crisis or trying time. For instance, David fasted when he learned that Saul and Jonathan had been killed (2 Samuel 1:12). Nehemiah fasted upon learning that Jerusalem was still in ruins (Nehemiah 1:4). Darius, the king of Persia, fasted all night after he was forced to put Daniel in the den of lions (Daniel 6:18). When some of the greatest Christians in history found themselves at their lowest states, they turned to the only One that could give them hope: the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
So the answer to the question above is yes! Of course prayer and fasting apply to Christians today. Just like in David’s day, we are going to face spiritual giants; and we need to be well equipped to fight against the “fiery darts of the wicked.” Even Christ Himself fasted and prayed 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness before being tempted of Satan (Matthew 4:2). Christ could obviously have ended Satan once and for all that day, but He was teaching His children a valuable lesson: If we prepare for the stormy winds now, and draw close to God now while in the midst of the calm, it will better prepare us for when the raging waves of trials and temptations come. And trust me, they will come! I’m still learning that lesson and will be the rest of my life.
Now the question also arises, can we fast from things other than food? The answer is once again, yes! Take something that is precious to you, whatever it may be, and substitute that time with prayer for God’s will on your life. You don’t have to ask Him for anything but that His will be done in your life. You can fast from things such as: TV, internet, hobbies, or things that intrigue your interest and time. The key is to not let your motive be selfish gain, but to have a willingness towards whatever God may want for your life. Remember this verse: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that govern to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).