THERE IS NO Bible example of fasting before the time of Moses. But it is presumed that the patriarchs fasted until Moses' time. We think this because there was a great deal of mourning among people of the Old Covenant.
In the New Testament, people fasted to minister to the Lord, ordain men to the ministry, and seek God in times of crisis. YOU MUST ALWAYS HAVE A PURPOSE FOR FASTING. Don't fast just because someone tells you to.
It is good to fast when things are pressing in on you, and you need to wait on God prayerfully. The Lord may speak to you and lead you to fast. If
He does, do it! However, it is important to remember that FASTING DOES NOT CHANGE GOD. He is the same before, during, and after you fast. But FASTING WILL CHANGE YOU. It will help you to keep the flesh under and become more sensitive to the Spirit of God.
The Fasted Life
When I first started out in the field ministry, I wasn't led of the Lord to do this, but I set aside two days a week to fast. Then I took the time that I would have been eating to pray and fellowship with God. Fasting will not do much good if you don't pray and wait on God.
After several years of fasting, God said to me, "I WOULD BE MORE PLEASED IF YOU LIVED A FASTED LIFE."
"What do you mean, a fasted life?" I asked.
"Never eat all you want," He said. "Keep your appetite under. That's all a fast is going to do anyway—keep the body under."
I never had any more days of fasting after that, unless the Holy Spirit spoke to me. I found that I made greater spiritual strides—both personally and in ministry—by living a fasted life. I noticed that healings came more easily when I did this, and I started having more results. It helped my spirit become more sensitive to God's Spirit so He could manifest Himself through me.
Pushing to Extremes
Some people try to make a religion out of fasting. They push themselves to an extreme, thinking works will get the job done. Don't be like the pastor who broke down his body with fasting and became so sick he died. Did you ever notice that Jesus again and again departed from the crowd? His body was like ours. He got just as tired as anyone. The main thing is to be led by the Spirit of God. FAST AND WAIT ON GOD AS THE HOLY SPIRIT LEADS YOU.
Different Kinds of Fasts
Remember how Daniel fasted 21 days? He ate no "pleasant bread" (Dan. 10:3). THERE IS MORE THAN ONE WAY TO FAST. There are no ironclad rules. Daniel didn't eat anything he wanted, but he did eat something. That is harder to do sometimes. It's a matter of us dominating our flesh, not letting our flesh dominate us.
You can also fast things other than food, like television. Daniel gave up eating pleasant bread. So why wouldn't it be alright to give up things that might be pleasant to us? A well-known evangelist gave God 10 percent of his time in prayer. He prayed 2 hours and 40 minutes each night. To do that he sacrificed his television time.
You might say, "I couldn't pray 2 hours and 40 minutes a day." But perhaps you could sacrifice television time or some other time that you're wasting to devote more time to prayer.
When Should You Fast?
The Bible doesn't give us specific instructions on when to fast. I believe this is because God wants us to learn to be led by His Spirit. That way we'll be prepared for whatever He has for us to do. We need the help of the Holy Spirit—and we have it—in this area, as in all others.
[Editor's Note: This article was adapted from Kenneth E. Hagin's book A Commonsense Guide to Fasting.]
A Clear Distinction
Many theologians believe the soul and spirit are the same. However, the Bible makes a clear distinction between the two.
Paul said in First Thessalonians 5:23 (NLT), "May your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again."
We see that the soul and spirit can be separated by God's Word: "For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow" (Heb. 4:12 NLT).
The Word of God can "cut between," or separate, the soul and spirit of man because they are different. There would be no need to divide them if they were the same. You cannot separate something from itself. A container of water divided into two parts still equals water.
When dirt and water are mixed together in a container, the muddy water is made up of two different elements: dirt and water. If the water sits for awhile, the mud will settle to the bottom of the container. They're different, so they can be separated.
Similarly, although the soul and spirit come together within the nature of each person, they can be separated from each other. They are two distinct entities.
A lot of people want to be healed, but they don't want to hear anythingKenneth E. Hagin
Your Spirit Becomes New
When you are born again, your spirit becomes new, not your mind or body (2 Cor. 5:17). The old life disappeared and a new life began. Where? In your inward man, the hidden person of the heart (1 Peter 3:4 NKJV).
Our soulish thoughts and emotions don't change overnight. If our souls became brand-new, Paul wouldn't have told us as believers to renew our minds with the Word of God (Rom. 12:2 NIV).
As you receive the Word into your heart and mind, your mind is renewed and undergoes "extensive changes." You are transformed into the image of Jesus (Rom. 8:29). Your soul is restored and you begin to think and operate in line with the Word. This helps you keep your spirit in control of your body and emotions. It enables you to live right before God continually.
If you're not renewing your mind, you'll probably respond to situations the way you did before salvation. It will be much harder to resist the temptation to sin.
You cannot follow God's plan for your life without renewing your mind with the Word. A renewed mind makes you more sensitive to the things of God. You'll be less likely to respond to circumstances from your emotions or reasoning.
Just stay faithful to fill your heart and mind with God's Word. By doing this, your soul will continually be restored, or saved (James 1:21; Ps. 23:3). It will become easier for you to follow the Holy Spirit's leading.
Kenneth W. Hagin
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