Each year, we set aside a time for 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting leading up to Easter. Starting March 7- April 15, this 40-day period is meant for you to draw near to God by building in some new routines and by deleting something from your life that will cause you to think of God more. Fasting is not an attempt to twist God’s arm to make Him do something He doesn’t want to do, but rather an opportunity to heighten your intensity in prayer and to draw you closer to Him so that His desires are your desires.
Ways to Fast
Be as creative as possible in how you will approach the 40 days. Whatever you fast, let the fasting item be a prompt for you to remember to pray. Here are some ways you could fast during the next 40 days:
- You might consider giving up something for the 40 days
- Give up something different each week
- Add some special time-alone-with-God times
- Add some fresh challenges to your faith
- Set new goals
- Food, gum, coffee, sweets, desserts, movies, video games, reading, music, or any number of new ideas that God brings to mind.
8 Benefits of Fasting
Fasting intensifies the desire to pray.It turns hunger into a spiritual feast, making our appetite for God’s blessings stronger. The self-discipline of fasting teaches the flesh to yield to the spirit.
Fasting deepens humility.Humility is voluntary submission to God’s will. It’s an attitude cultivated by fasting. James 4:7-10 reminds us that those who grieve, mourn and weep before the Lord (all indirect references to fasting) will be lifted up.
Fasting encourages perseverance in prayer.Psalm 35:13 says David added fasting to his searching for God “when my prayers returned…unanswered.” There are times when we are tempted to give up asking, but fasting and praying even more would be the appropriate response. Fasting keeps our minds on the spiritual hunger that drove us to start praying and the spiritual thirst that will not let us give up.
Fasting increases our delight in God’s answers.“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy,” the psalm writer said (Psalm 126:5). The greater our sacrifice for a heart’s desire, the greater our satisfaction when it is realized. Fasting does not force God to do what we ask; it prepares us to delight in asking for whatever will please Him most.
Fasting intensifies concentration in prayer.It begins with a conscious decision to make prayer a priority-a decision that is usually prompted by specific needs or burdens. The decision to forego food to focus on prayer concentrates more spiritual energy on those needs. Fasting overpowers distractions that Satan uses to keep us from praying.
Fasting amplifies faith.Jesus told the drowsy disciples who were supposed to be joining Him in a night of fasting from sleep, “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Victory over the flesh increases our confidence that we will be victorious in spirit.
Fasting creates a new openness to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.Jesus returned “in the power of the Spirit”: when He had won His forty-day battle of prayer and fasting in the wilderness (Luke 4:14). Fasting is not going without food so much as it is an emptying of ourselves in anticipation of a fresh filling by the Holy Spirit.
Fasting helps drive Satan back from long-held territory.Soldiers locked in battle do not stop for coffee breaks, but it seems that Christians involved in spiritual warfare often do. Some life situations are so intense that we dare not give up until we win a clear-cut victory. Because Satan does not surrender to the fainthearted, we should sometimes turn to fasting to keep us fully engaged in the struggle against the foe.