I did a random online search on teachings/testimonies on fasting. Here are some samples:
the Methodists: Fasting as a Spiritual Practice
____________________The General Council of the Assemblies of God
Why Every Church Must Fast, By Bob Rodgers
When my father suddenly died of a heart attack in 1988, the church voted that I succeed him as pastor. The church, having just come through a building program, was hopelessly in debt.
Not knowing what to do, I asked the people to join me in fasting 21 days, fasting one meal a day for 21 days. For the past 18 years I had fasted 1 week during the Christmas-New Year period. So I fasted for 7 days—three meals a day. I felt I had completed the fast. However, the Lord spoke to me to continue, so I fasted the entire 21 days with only liquids.
Immediately I noticed a change in my life. I preached with greater power and authority. Our church began to grow, and finance began to increase. Then the Lord impressed upon me to have our church fast 3 days every month—we took the first Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday each month.
It was easy to get several thousand people to begin fasting on Monday, but when Wednesday came I was fortunate to have a handful still fasting. After several months I initiated a miracle service on the third day—intending to have a goal for the people to reach so they could complete the 3 days.
When I arrived for the miracle service on Wednesday morning I was shocked to find the chapel totally packed and people standing around the inside walls. Some could not get in the door. I preached a very simple message and at the end began to pray for the people. Two were present with terminal cancer. Both were healed that day. Another lady had a growth the size of a grapefruit on her leg. After prayer she went home; the tumor had disappeared. The power of God increased in our church, and that year 37 people were healed of cancer.
The next year, beginning the first Monday in January, I asked the people to join me in fasting for 21 days. At the end of that period 15 people completed the fast on liquids only. The next year 50 people fasted the entire 21 days. The following year 79. The next year 89. Last year over 3,000 fasted something, but 263 fasted with only liquids.
The results in our church have been startling. Our income has multiplied over threefold. We have restructured our finance and are paying our bills. In the past months we baptized 73, and 87 joined the church. All these are the result of fasting and prayer.
I believe there are five reasons why every church needs to have a regular fasting time.
1. JESUS URGED IT.
Throughout the Bible the emphasis is on public fasts. Joel put it this way: “Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly” (2:15). Jesus also put an emphasis on fasting corporately. He declared, “Then shall they fast in those days” (Mark 2:20). He knew the church would be assaulted by the enemy from every direction and, therefore, urged the church to fast. Thus the primary form of fasting is a corporate fast. Secondary fasting is individual fasting.
In Matthew 6, during the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught three fundamentals of Christianity: giving, praying, and fasting. We should give not to be seen of men but privately (verse 3). We pray both privately and with other people (verses 5,7). Jesus implied primary prayer is to pray alone. Secondary prayer is to pray with other people. Some things are too private to pray about with others—they are only between God and the one praying.
Fasting individually is secondary because (1) it is easier to fast with other people than alone; (2) fasting corporately brings the most powerful unity a church or body of believers can ever witness; and (3) a corporate anointing is released in a church. Even though some may not be praying for a particular situation, they will benefit from the anointing others receive through that fast. I have seen countless families get better jobs and receive promotions in their businesses during our 21-day fastings, and they were not even praying about those matters. However, someone else was and they received that blessing from the other’s prayers.
2. fasting helps produce faith.
Faith must be released out of our mouths (Romans 10:3–10). Our source of faith is the Word of God, but we must speak it with our mouths.
The same organ we speak with is the same organ we eat with—the tongue. Fasting and faith are first cousins. The tongue speaks faith and eats food. Some unbelief cannot be broken without fasting.
God spoke to Joshua to tell the people as they were ready to invade Jericho, “You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, ‘Shout’” (Joshua 6:10, NKJV).
There are different types of fasts. In this situation God commanded the people to fast by not speaking. For over a week they could not speak.
Fasting increases faith as we allow God’s Word to saturate our minds.
3. fasting is the spiritual method to bring revival (Joel 2:28).
This passage speaks of a revival that affects the young and the old. It will come to pass “afterward.” After what?
Afterward is used much like the word then. If you will do this, then these blessings will happen in your life. Some requirements are necessary before afterward can take place: (1) “Blow the trumpet in Zion, (2) sanctify a fast, (3) call a solemn assembly” (Joel 2:15).
Fasting must occur before the blessing of afterward can happen. Joel was saying if we will fast and have the people seek God with public fasting, then afterward He will send a revival. Peter quoted this verse in Acts 2.
I have always believed that on the Day of Pentecost the Early Church was fasting in the Upper Room. The reason is not only because of the verse of Scripture Peter quoted from Joel but because of Jewish orthodox tradition.
Up through the fourth century the Early Church, following Jewish tradition, fasted on communion days until 3 o’clock in the afternoon. An orthodox Jew would fast on the sacred feast and holy days of the Jewish calendar until 3 o’clock in the afternoon. They would say their prayers and prepare themselves spiritually for the events that were to happen later that day.
When Peter said, “These are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day,” he was actually saying they were not drinking wine. This was a holy day, and they were fasting until 3 o’clock; it was only 9 o’clock in the morning.
If your church will begin to fast, you have God’s promise from His Word that He will send a revival.
4. fasting puts us in a position to find the perfect will of god (Romans 12:1,2).
We are to present our bodies unto God. One way we do so is through fasting. When we fast we do it as unto the Lord. We experience hunger and sacrifice pleasures so we may draw closer to God. Fasting is not the answer—Jesus is; however, fasting puts us in a place to receive more of Jesus.
God promises to show us His good, acceptable, and perfect will. Many wonderful pastors are not in the perfect will of God. They were in churches in cities where God put them, but difficult times came. Attacks came upon their ministry and the churches, and they decided it was time for them to leave. They moved out of the perfect will of God.
Ministers must renew their minds so they know what is the perfect will of God for them. If they do not, they will always be square pegs in round holes and never accomplish God’s call upon their lives.
To renew your mind, first begin devouring the Word of God every day. Secondly, you must fast. Fasting is much more than suffering a few hunger pains and not eating food. Hunger begins leaving after 3 or 4 days. If you can fast 3 or 4 days, you can fast 21 days or even 40 days.
Fasting is a mental discipline. It is much more difficult to fast mentally than it is physically. Through this process comes a renewal of the mind, a discipline of the mind, a desire to know the perfect will of God.
5. Fasting brings victory.
If this were the only reason to fast, it is enough. Victory is sweet and wonderful. Many would rather suffer defeat and not fast than come out of their comfort zones. Fasting takes you out of your comfort zone but leads you to victory.
For almost 20 years I have fasted between 50 and 75 days each year. I hate to fast, but I dislike being defeated by Satan more.
When you fast and pray, you can defeat even the strongest devils. They flee from you. You don’t have to be afraid. You have the name of Jesus. The power of that Name becomes greatly multiplied in your life when you seek Him in prayer and fasting.
Unless there is a breakthrough in their lives this year, many pastors will not remain in the same church, and some will leave the ministry. For many, 1996 is a pivotal year. I encourage you to add a disciplined, regular time of fasting and prayer to your life and to your church. Victory belongs to you, and fasting is one of the keys to help bring it into your life and ministry.
Bob Rodgers is senior pastor of Evangel Christian Life Center, Louisville, Kentucky.
____________________Communication Ministries Network, Africa
What does the Bible say about fasting?
One aspect of Christian life that is experiencing a revival in our time, is fasting.Perhaps we need to listen once more to the Bible’s teaching about fasting, so as not to miss this blessing.
It is not true that only Pharisees fast. Right through the Bible / also in the New Testament / fasting plays an important role in serving God. During the Reformation fasting was prominent. John Wesley (of the Methodist Church) even refused to ordain a minister who did not fast regularly.
When should a Christian fast?
The famous Reformer John Calvin speaks about the Christian fast in Institute 1V:X11:14-18. He says one should fast for three reasons:
1. To avoid being controlled by the flesh (your sinful nature);
2. For prayer and meditation;
3. As part of repentance and confession of sins.
He stresses especially that a time of fasting and prayer should be called for whenever intercession for an important matter is needed.
John Wesley tells of a national day of prayer and fasting proclaimed by the King of England in 1756 because of an impending attack by France. The churches were filled to overflowing, for everybody realized the danger. Their prayers were answered, and the attack was averted.
Examples from the Bible
We often read of times of prayer and fasting in the Bible, e.g.
– when Christian leaders pray together (Acts 13:1-2);
– when ministers are ordained (Acts 13:3);
– when elders are elected (Acts 14:23);
– when believers are in danger (Esther 4:16);
– when specific prayers are called for (Psalm 35:13).
In the Sermon on the Mount it is clear that Jesus expected his disciples to fast at times. In Matthew 6:16-18 He says, “and when you fast, do not put on a sad face as the hypocrites do . . .”
It is surprising to discover which Bible characters found it necessary to fast, for example Moses (Exodus 24:18); David (Psalm 69:10); Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:1-4); Elijah (1 Kings 19:8); Ezra (Ezra 8:21-23); Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:4); Joel (Joel 2:15 ); Anna (Luke 2:37); Jesus (Matthew 4:2); his disciples (Luke 5:35); Paul (Acts 9:9) and the Christian churches (Acts 14:23).
So we also read in the Didache, a Christian document written in the first century AD, that Christians of that period fasted every Wednesday and Friday.
How does one fast?
There are different ways of fasting:
1. by avoiding delicacies (Daniel 10:3);
2. by eating less than usual;
3. by avoiding all food, but drinking liquids (Luke 4:2);
4. by abstaining from all food and drink (Acts 9:9). (The latter is exceptional, since a normal human cannot live for more than three days
The Christian fast should not be confused with
– eating strikes for political purposes;
– a diet plan to lose weight;
– fasting for health, as has become the fashion lately.
Christian fasting is always combined with prayer, since fasting on its own does not have any value in God’s eyes (Joel 2:13; Isaiah 58:5; Colossians 2:23; Zechariah 7:5). Fasting reveals to us what really controls our lives. It helps to keep the body und er control (1 Corinthians 9:27) and helps us to avoid becoming addicted to anything (1 Corinthians 6:12).
The Christian fast is completely voluntary. It helps you to dedicate yourself completely to prayer. All who practice fasting testify to the value thereof.
If you wish to fast, you are recommended to start by skipping one meal, and later to abstain from food for 24 hours (supper to supper). If you are not very healthy you could also fast for a period of time by just abstaining from rich foods and sweets.
Remember the main purpose of fasting: to have fellowship with God. It is not to try to force God to do something against his will, but to conform yourself to God’s will.
Let’s put fasting back on the menu!
I made an interesting discovery recently: Fasting has been the bread and butter of normal church life for 2000 years! In fact, according to my research, it appears to have been one of the major factors in releasing the power of the Holy Spirit in times of Revival.
I was so taken back with my discovery that I trawled through scores of church history and revival books (electronically!) looking for references to fasting. What I found was astounding! There is clear, documented evidence that all the great leaders and revival movements of church history used this amazing key to add power to their prayers! In one collection of church history documents the software I used refused to reveal its findings, stating ‘the search exceeds the 5,000 limit of this software!’
Could it be that fasting is a vital, but missing ingredient in the 21st century church?
Matthew Henry said “Fasting is a laudable practice and we have reason to lament that it is generally neglected among Christians.”
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones “I wonder whether we have ever fasted? I wonder whether it has even occurred to us that we ought to be considering the question of fasting? The fact is, that this whole subject seems to have dropped right out of our lives and right out of our whole Christian thinking.”
In the early church
In the early Christian Church they fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays. The early church fathers like Jerome, Athanasius, Clement of Rome, John Chrysostom – all I could find – practiced fasting. One day a week, twice a week, whole weeks, even whole months! Martin Luther was criticized because he fasted too much. John Calvin fasted and prayed until most of Geneva turned to God. John Knox fasted and prayed and the wicked Mary, Queen of Scots said she feared no weapon like she feared John Knox’s prayers.
Jonathan Edwards who was God’s instrument in the revival in New England, fasted and prayed. He fasted for 22 hours prior to preaching his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” John Wesley fasted twice a week. Charles Finney one of the greatest revival leaders in history was a man who fasted and prayed. D. L. Moody was not unfamiliar with fasting and praying. During the Prayer Revival in America in 1859, Christians fasted during their lunch hours and attended prayer meetings in churches near their places of employment. In two years 1 million people came to Christ!
Richard Riss who has documented the mid-twentieth century evangelical awakening in America quotes George Hawtin: “The truth of fasting was one great contributing factor to the revival. One year before this we had read Franklin Hall’s book, entitled ‘Atomic Power With God Through Fasting and Prayer.’ We immediately began to practice fasting. Previously we had not understood the possibility of long fasts. The revival would never have been possible without the restoration of this great truth through our good brother Hall.”
Hall’s book on fasting and prayer was a major influence in the ministries of Oral Roberts, William Branham, A. A. Allen, O. L. Jaggers, David Nunn, Tommy Hicks, W. V. Grant and other healing evangelists who were raised up in the late 1940’s and 1950’s.
Even in our own nation (Britain) the greatest revival (of conversion growth) in my lifetime was during Billy Graham’s crusades in the early ‘50s. He reports fasting and praying during his voyage to England before the great work began!
Even this small selection is an impressive testimony of the power of fasting.
Jesus is our example of fasting
Immediately after being baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit to spend forty days fasting in the wilderness, Luke 4:1-2. During this forty day period Jesus came into direct spiritual conflict with Satan. Is it possible that Satan knew from history that fasting releases God’s power and that Jesus was now preparing for the ultimate decisive battle? Satan certainly did his utmost to thwart Jesus plans at this point.
The text is revealing. In Luke 4.1, it says “And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit ….” but afterwards, in Luke 4.14 we read: “And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit”
It seems that the potential of the Holy Spirit’s power, which Jesus received at the time of His baptism in Jordan, only came into its full manifestation after He had completed His fast. Fasting was the final phase of preparation through which He had to pass, before entering into His public ministry. Fasting in the wilderness obviously took Jesus to another level of effectiveness.
Jesus made an interesting comment in Mark 9:29. Remarking on the inability of the disciples to cast out a spirit from a boy, he says that ‘this kind only comes out by prayer and fasting.’ This means that some special situations which are being troubled by satanic powers are better handled by adding fasting to prayer. Again, fasting releases God’s power.
Jesus’ teaching on fasting
In Matthew 6.1-18 we read of instructions Christ gives to His disciples on three related duties: giving to the needy, praying, and fasting. In each case He places His main emphasis upon the motive and warns against religious ostentation for the sake of impressing men. With this qualification, He assumes that all His disciples will practice all three of these duties. This is indicated by the language which He uses concerning each.
In verse 2 He says, “When you [singular] give to the needy . . . .” In verse 6 He says, “When you [singular] pray . . .” (individually); and in verse 7, “When you [plural] pray . . (collectively). In verse 16 He says, “When you [plural] fast . . .” (collectively); and in verse 17, “When you [singular] fast” (individually). In no case does Christ say, if, but always when. The inference is clear. Christ expects that allHis disciples will regularly practice all three of these duties. Giving is a private affair you do on your own. Prayer and fasting are activities that are done regularly, both privately and collectively!
This was not a surprise to the first disciples, for fasting was an accepted part of religious duty among Jews in Christ’s day. They had practiced it continuously from the time of Moses onward. On a number of occasions in the Old Testament we see the entire nation called to fasting. Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast in 2 Chron 20; Ezra proclaimed a fast in Ezra 8:21-23; a fast was employed to release God’s will in Esther’s day. Even non-believers proclaimed a fast at Nineveh and thereby changed God’s intention to destroy them. This was a big issue in their history. It brought the blessing of God down in the most difficult circumstances.
Both the Pharisees and the disciples of John the Baptist fasted regularly. The people were surprised that they did not see the disciples of Jesus doing the same, and they asked Him the reason. Like ‘How can you expect the blessing of God if you don’t fast? Their question, and Christ’s answer, is recorded in Mark:
Mark 2:18-20 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?” Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.”
The bridegroom, as always in the New Testament, is Christ Himself. The guests of the bridegroom are the disciples of Christ (about whom the question had been asked). The period while the bridegroom is with them corresponds to the days of Christ’s ministry on earth, while He was physically present with His disciples. The period when the bridegroom will be taken from them commenced when Christ ascended back to heaven, and will continue until He returns for His church. In the meantime the church, as a bride, is awaiting the return of the bridegroom. This is the period in which we are now living, concerning which Jesus says very definitely, “And then shall they [the disciples] fast in those days.” In the days in which we now live, therefore, fasting is a mark of true Christian discipleship, ordained by Jesus Himself.
Fasting should be put back on the menu by all those who desire to see another wave of kingdom power sweep their land!
The Practice of the Early Church
Fasting played a vital part in Paul’s ministry. Immediately after his first encounter with Christ on the Damascus road, he spent the next three days without food or drink (Acts 9.9). Ananias was visited by the Lord and given orders to go to such and such a place where he would find Saul of Tarsus. Paul saw Ananias in a vision and when he arrived Ananias laid hands on Saul to receive the Holy Spirit and was then catapulted into the most effective ministry in the early church. We have to ask the question ‘Did Paul’s fast have anything to do with these dynamic results?’
Thereafter fasting was a regular part of his spiritual discipline. In 2 Corinthians 6.3-10 Paul lists various different ways in which he had proved himself a true minister of God. In verse 5 two of the ways listed are: ‘in watchings, in fastings.’ ‘Watching’ signifies going without sleep; ‘fasting’ signifies going without food. Both these disciplines were practiced at times by Paul to make his ministry fully effective.
In 2 Corinthians 11.23-27 Paul returns to this theme. Speaking of other men who set themselves up as his rivals in the ministry, Paul says: “Are they ministers of Christ? … I am more . . . .” He then gives a long list of the various ways in which he had proved himself a true minister of Christ. In verse 27 he says: “In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often . . .” Here again Paul joins ‘watching’ closely with ‘fasting’. The plural form, ‘in fastings often,’ indicates that Paul devoted himself to frequent periods of fasting. ‘Hunger and thirst’ refers to occasions when neither food nor drink was available. ‘Fastings’ refers to occasions when food was available, but Paul deliberately abstained for spiritual reasons.
Also ‘fastings’ probably reflects that he practised different sorts of fasting. Sometimes a total fast of food and water (like all orthodox Jews do once a year on the Day of Atonement); sometimes a fast of just food (as Jesus did); sometimes a partial fast like Daniel who took no ‘choice’ foods; sometimes a daily fast, sometimes many days; sometimes alone and sometimes with others. One of these latter fasts is recorded in Acts 13:1-3.
In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
In this local congregation in the city of Antioch five leading ministers—designated as prophets and teachers—were praying and fasting together. This is described as ministering to the Lord. The majority of Christian leaders or congregations today know very little of this aspect of ministry. Yet, in the divine order, ministry to the Lord comes before ministry to men. Out of the ministry to the Lord, the Holy Spirit brings forth the direction and the power needed for effective ministry to men.
So it was at Antioch. As these five leaders prayed and fasted together, the Holy Spirit revealed that He had a special task for two of them—Barnabas and Saul (later called Paul). He said, “Separate for me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” In this way these two men were called out for a special task.
However, they were not yet ready to undertake the task. They still required the impartation of the special grace and power that were necessary for the task ahead. For this purpose, all five men fasted and prayed together a second time. Then, after the second period of fasting, the other leaders laid their hands on Barnabas and Paul, and sent ‘them forth to fulfil their task.’
So it was through collective prayer and fasting that Barnabas and Paul received, first, the revelation of a special task, and second, the grace and power needed to fulfil that task. At the time they all prayed and fasted together, Barnabas and Paul—like the other three men—were recognized as prophets and teachers. But after being sent forth to their task, they were described as apostles (see Acts 14.4, 14). We may therefore say that the apostolic ministry of Barnabas and Paul was born out of collective prayer and fasting by five leaders of the church at Antioch.
In due course this practice of collective prayer and fasting was transmitted by Barnabas and Paul to the congregations of new disciples which were established in various cities as a result of their ministry. The actual establishment of each congregation was accomplished through the appointment of their own local elders. This is described in Acts:
Acts 14:23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
So there we have it! Fasting releases the power of God through our prayers like nothing else can! It is normal for every Christian to fast. Jesus practiced this method and the early church followed suit. Of course there is much more teaching on the subject in Scripture but we have to conclude that there is hardly anyone who saw the intervention of God and great advance of His Kingdom, whether in the Bible or since the Bible was first penned, that did not use this dynamic addition to their prayer lives. They fasted!
Charles Spurgeon, the London pastor from a century ago, said, ‘Our seasons of fasting and prayer at the Tabernacle have been high days indeed; never has Heaven’s gate stood wider; never have our hearts been nearer the central Glory.’
Men and women that God has used mightily throughout history, have similarly believed this. They saw God’s glory manifest in their day. The possibility of joining their ranks is offered to every believer today. Right around the world thousands of believers are practicing prayer with fasting. The Lord is preparing his great army for a glorious and final outpouring of his Spirit to restore the glory to the church and in the world, before his return. Let’s put fasting back on our menu!
Tony Cauchi, Librarian