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Institute in Basic Life Principles

Command 12 : Practice Secret Disciplines | Day 83

Enjoy the Rewards of Fasting!

The rewards of fasting are tremendous! There are spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical benefits from going without food for a period of time. The length of a fast could be anywhere from one meal to 40 days.

Fasting greatly increases spiritual alertness and authority. When the disciples asked Jesus why they could not cast out an unclean spirit that was tormenting a boy, Jesus answered, “This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21).

Jesus entered the wilderness for fasting in the fullness of the Spirit, but He returned in the power of the Spirit. (See Luke 4:1-14.)

The first time I ever fasted was as a teenager while memorizing the Sermon on the Mount. I just assumed that because Jesus gave instruction to do it, I should try it. The first day was very difficult, because my physical appetites were so used to getting what they demanded. However, the longer the fast continued, the more I began to see deeper and richer truths in God's Word. I was experiencing the words of Jesus, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

Later, during my months of working with inner-city gangs, I saw very few coming to salvation until I spent a day in fasting and prayer. The following week many who were "holding out" became believers, and God demonstrated His supernatural power in delivering young people from the bondage of sin.

One of the greatest rewards of fasting is finding relief from the bondage of sensual addictions.

The Apostle Paul explains the cause-and-effect sequence in the Christian life: if we sow to the flesh, we will of the flesh reap corruption, but if we sow to the Spirit, we will of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (See Galatians 6:8.) During a longer fast, sensual desires are dramatically reduced. After the fast they may reappear, but a new level of control should be present if the fast was carried out with meditation on Scripture.

There are also significant health benefits to fasting. During a fast, harmful toxins are eliminated from the body; the physical senses such as taste, sight, and sound are greatly sharpened; the immune system is strengthened (often resulting in many different diseases clearing up); and the factors that cause aging are greatly reduced.

The oldest person mentioned in the New Testament is Anna. Several factors indicate that she was continuing her public ministry at about the age of 110. However, more than 80 years of her life had been spent in regular fasting and prayer in the Temple. (See Luke 2:37.) These physical benefits are alluded to in Isaiah 58:8: “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily." Why not plan now to enjoy the marvelous benefits of regular fasting!

Give secretly; pray secretly; fast secretly; "... and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:1-18).

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Contributing writer: Bill Gothard