When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their REWARD in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will REWARD you. --Jesus in Matthew 6
Jesus said that our heavenly Father rewards fasting. Following are seven rewards of fasting:
1. Fasting turns back God’s wrath and judgment.
Moses recorded that God was angry enough to destroy Aaron and the children of Israel because of their gold cow idol (Dt 9:18-20). But, as we know, God’s wrath was turned back after Moses fasted and prayed. There has been much said and written the past few years about God’s wrath and judgment on different nations. I’m convinced that Christians can turn back God’s judgment through fasting and prayer. Of course that will never happen unless God’s people get more concerned about the next generation than their next meal
2. Fasting releases prophetic strategies for victory.
The Moabites, Amonites, and several other hostile nations were arrayed against Israel. (See 2 Chr 20:1-30.) King Jehoshaphat called for a fast. You know you are in a desperate situation when a guy nicknamed J-PHAT calls for a fast. During the fast, a prophetic word was given that laid out God’s strategy for their battle. “No swords. No shields. No spears. Get your tambourines ready, we’re going to war!” I’m sure there were some battle-hardened warriors who thought that word was way off. After all, “We’ve never fought a battle like that before.” As always, God knew best. If we are willing to skip a few meals, we may receive prophetic strategies to influence our cities for God’s glory. They may be new and untried strategies, but if they are from God, we can be confident they will work.
3. Fasting activates people and provision for God’s work.
Nehemiah’s building project was preceded by corporate fasting. Would it have been as successful without the fasting? I don’t think so. In 1984, God opened the door for our fledgling Manila church to have its own (rented) building in Manila’s crowded University-Belt as we fasted and prayed. Each time our church has expanded to a new building to own or rent, a vital part of our fund-raising strategy has been prayer and fasting.
4. Fasting releases wisdom and favor.
Daniel and his friends went on a partial fast (vegetables and water only). At the end of the fast, they were compared with the rest of the young men of Babylon. The results are recorded in Daniel 1:20. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. Would you like to be ten times better than your competitors? Just lay off the pizza for a few days and seek God wholeheartedly.
5. Fasting clarifies and redirects callings and ministries.
Paul, Barnabas, and a few other Antioch church leaders were me eting together, and while they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said: set apart for me Barnabas . . . (Acts 13:1-3). While they were fasting, the Holy Spirit spoke. Would He have spoken this new direction even if they had not fasted? Probably. The real question is: Would they have been sensitive enough to hear the Holy Spirit speak if they had not fasted? Maybe. Maybe not. Are you seeking God for a new direction in your life or ministry? Good time to fast.
6. Fasting breaks demonic strongholds.
On one occasion, the disciples unsuccessfully attempted to cast out a demon. When they asked Jesus why they had failed, He responded: this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting (Matt 17:21). This seems to indicate that there are certain demonic situations that, for one reason or another, can only be defeated through fasting. Isaiah said that true fasting will loose chains . . . untie the cords of yoke . . . set the oppressed free and break every yoke (Is 58:6). Have you ever encountered a stubborn demonic situation? Maybe it’s the kind that only goes out by prayer and fasting.
7. Fasting increases spiritual power.
Luke records that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and that He was led by the Spirit. After His forty day fast, He returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit (Lk 4:1,14). How many Christians do you know who are full of the Spirit and led by the Spirit, but do not walk in the power of the Spirit? Need more power? Spiritual power is one of the rewards of fasting.
This blog was originally an article called "Freedom from the Stomach God" written for Evangelicals Today magazine. A few years ago I wrote several fasting blogs on my "accidental missionary" site. The first was called "I Hate Fasting."
(Note: We encourage only healthy adults to fast. If you are pregnant or nursing, you should not fast. If you have any medical condition, you should check with your doctor before fasting.)