Fasting for spiritual purposes has been done for thousands of years. In fact, the Israelites were first commanded to fast and rest on the annual Day of Atonement as part of the Old Covenant. There is no longer a need for a Day of Atonement because Jesus died on the cross as the permanent atonement for our sins and the only requirement of the New Covenant is faith in Jesus, the Christ. However, fasting is beneficial, but we do it because we WANT to and not because we MUST.
Jesus’ First Fast – Resisting Temptation:
The first thing Jesus did after He was baptized was to go into the wilderness and fast and pray for 40 days and nights. After His fast, Satan tempted him in the same way that he had tempted Adam and Eve, but Jesus resisted temptation with the Word of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. He was physically weak, but spiritually strong whereas Adam and Eve were physically strong and spiritually weak. (Luke 4:1-13). Could food cause you to open the door to the devil as it did Adam & Eve?
Isaiah 58 – The Fast that Pleases God:
There are many reasons for fasting, but I think Isaiah 58 has one of the best explanations of why we should fast. It tells us that fasting is not just abstaining from food and being unchanged spiritually. It’s about changing US and making US more like God – more sensitive to the things that hurt God such as injustice, hypocrisy, and the needy. Isaiah 58 goes on to tell us that we will be blessed in every area of our lives when we fast with the right attitude. I liked the translation from The Message that explains why the people were fasting but God was not pleased.