With the start of the new year, many Christians are taking time to fast and pray for God’s direction for the months ahead. Many are doing a Daniel Fast, which excludes ‘pleasant food’ like sugar, meat, bread, and caffeine. The inspiration for this type of fast comes from the life of Daniel (Daniel 10: 2,3) the Jewish captive in Babylon who became Prime Minister under several emperors. 

Esther – When the Jewish people were about to be killed by an evil decree, Esther called a fast before she went to ask for mercy from the king. She announced: “…gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same.” (Esther 4:16) 

The people of Nineveh – After Jonah preached a message of God’s coming judgment and destruction of Nineveh, the whole city fasted. “The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow.” (Jonah 3:5) 

Both of these examples have something in common. They show an outward demonstration of humility through the voluntary abstinence from food. Both Esther and the Ninevites were expressing their complete dependence on God’s favor and mercy. The physical weakness brought about by fasting mirrored their helplessness and assisted them in putting all of their confidence in Him instead of themselves.  

Food brings pleasure, strength, and comfort. When we fast, we deny ourselves these and become more aware that our true pleasure, strength, and comfort are found in the Lord alone.  

We are warned to not put any confidence in our flesh (Philippians 3:3), but it’s so easy to forget that commandment when we are at the peak of our strength and enjoying every good and pleasant thing. When we fast, we choose to become weak and to focus on the power of our inner man which comes from the Holy Spirit.  

In Psalm 69:10 King David says, “…I humbled my soul with fasting…” Some translations use the words disciplined and chastened. Some even say, “…I wept in my soul with fasting…”  God really hates pride, and He resists those who operate in it. (James 4:6, I Peter 4:5) Because pride is a sin that’s so very easy to fall into, fasting is a way for us to put our pride in check and rid ourselves of the arrogance that comes so naturally. 

Fast or Slow? 
We all know the story of the tortoise and the hare. It’s another lesson about the dangers of pride and the reward that comes from humility. When we are fasting, our physical bodies can feel sluggish and we don’t always have the energy that we’re accustomed to. But in God’s Kingdom, so many things seem to be upside down: We increase by giving, we are promoted by serving, and in our weakness, God’s strength is perfected in us. Fasting is the same. When we choose to slow ourselves down, deny ourselves the foods we like, and use our time to seek the Lord rather than to further our own goals, we discover that we are gaining ground in key areas, and we are positioned to excel in our relationship with God and the life He has called us to live.  
Fasting Challenge: 7 Days of Prayer & Fasting. What are you willing to give up to get answers from God.