Stated very simply, biblical fasting is refraining from food for a spiritual purpose. Biblical fasting takes some discipline and strength, which the Holy Spirit is always ready to provide. Again, the great benefit is that fasting will strengthen your spirit, big time! Fasting will build up the spirit you, to become more dominate over your flesh. The flesh is your body and soul.
Almost all of us experience times when the day-to-day business of life and the constant demands on our body seem to get in the way of our relationship with God. The things of this world end up “shorting out” our personal (physical, emotional and mental) electrical circuits. The strength and “flow” of God’s power is reduced to just a trickle in our lives. The world is becoming crazier and busier and so it’s more necessary than ever to keep our spirit strong.
Fasting is a valuable spiritual tool. All fasting is NOT the same–there are different types of fasting that can be broken down into basically two categories. The first category is a proclaimed fast (Joel 1:14). This type of fast is used for the purpose of bringing an individual or a group of Believers to a place where they can hear from God MUCH more clearly. Often times a proclaimed fast is called when believers are needing to unite and move in one direction, toward God and His purposes–possibly to overcome some resistance that is blocking their way. Use of a proclaimed fast is for a specific purpose or need.
The second type of fasting is a personal fast (Matthew 6). This type of fast is one I have personally used for decades and it always works well for me. All of my personal fasts have yielded amazing things and gratifying rewards. Everything spiritual, including fasting, is about the heart… or spirit. You’ll want to be cautious if you want to receive the Scriptural rewards.
Jesus taught that when you fast, if you talk too much about it, look distressed due to depriving yourself, so that others will think you are super spiritual–you have received your reward from the attention of men. So you can either receive your reward from the admiration of men or you can receive your reward from God–but you can’t have both.
The key is to fast in relative secrecy so that God can reward you openly. But let’s not over-react by being too religious. Jesus does not say or mean that no one should ever know or find out about your fast. That’s not what Jesus was referring to. As usual the Lord is talking about the heart. He was instructing not to use fasting for attention, recognition or manipulation as was very common in His earthly ministry. Check your heart. Conduct your fast as unto the Lord only.
Let’s look at Matthew 6:16-18. “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
Sometimes it is beneficial to let a trusted friend, spouse, the church board, ministry partners, or key personnel know about your personal fast so that they can intercede in prayer for the purposes of the fast. Remember, it’s all about the heart. Your motive for fasting must be sincere and between you and God. Do everything for the Lord and nothing for men.
The Bible points out there is also a partial fast. The Bible doesn’t use the word ‘partial’ but we see the principles of such. For example, “they fasted sweets.” Also, “they ate other foods but refrained from sweets.” This indicates giving up something you enjoy as a sign to the Lord that you put Him in “first place.” It also tells our flesh that our spirit is in control … not the body or soul.
I started fasting in 1982 regularly and have done hundreds of assorted types of fasts – always with a wonderful outcome. For me it usually takes about three days of fasting before I recognize positive results. Beyond the 3rd day my spirit becomes much more in tune with the Lord and my spirit seems much more able to hear His voice. I’ve employed different types of fasts. I get help from a fast where I only drink juice (that means just drinking natural juice only, such as carrot juice and vegetable juice.) I’ve been helped by meat fasts (giving up just meat). Sometimes a sweet fast has been needed and helpful (giving up all sweets).
These days I’ve occasionally been instructed by the Lord to conduct an “electronics” fast where I refrain from using my computer, phone, TV, etc. This helps quiet my mind and sensitize my focus back on God and His Word. You too may find this to be helpful–at times even required. In order to hear the voice of God we must turn off the incoming data and noise and open our spiritual ears to hear. By the way, in my personal fasts I eliminate all beverages except water. I have not been led to fast water and recommend you do similarly. (The exception is a juice fast described above.) So much can be gained when fasting, yet, fasting water can be dangerous and does not seem to be required. I ask that you read on so you don’t miss important items below.
Be cautious not to become religious or OVERLY religious about fasting. For example, I’ve seen it happen often when a pastor goes on a fast and he has notified his congregation of his personal fast, asking for prayer and to keep his spiritual purpose in their hearts and minds. Afterwards some have ‘finger pointed’ in frustration that the pastor has violated scripture by telling others of his fast. This behavior once again is not representative of the teaching of the Lord Jesus. Jesus did not say to tell no one. He said don’t do fasting for the adoration or to be seen as spiritual before men.
Many have taken the verses of Matthew 6:1, “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Some have incorrectly applied this teaching about “charitable giving to be seen by men” to the fasting verses below.
Here is sort of a pilot’s checklist for fasting that can help you position yourself in an awesome and expectant position to receive from the Lord.
- Decide the purpose of your fast. Regardless of what you are seeking from the Lord, decide before you start what you hope to obtain through your fasting efforts. Look up Bible promises that cover your situation, and believe before your fast begins that God will answer your prayers. Your faith in God and His Word will be vital in bringing the results you desire. Remember that your faith is rooted only in the Word of God, not from the act of fasting. I usually write down the purpose in a journal and use the written purpose in step 2 below.
- Proclaim or announce your fast before God.
- Even before the fast is underway believe in your heart that you are going to receive the reward (Matthew 6:18). The reward will probably be related to the first step. The purpose of the fast will have a great deal to do with the rewards involved. If you are fasting so that God will reveal what He wants you to do, the reward would be receiving the direction and knowledge you need.
- Minister to the Lord during the fast. One of the better ways you can learn to do this is to read the Psalms. It helps if you’ll read them out loud. You will please Him by speaking of His mighty works. When you begin to praise and minister to Him, He will get more involved with you personally. The scripture tells us that God “inhabits the praises of His people.” It really happens, believe me! In order to have better fellowship with Him, let God hear your praise and thanksgiving.
- Be a minister to others after the fast. Use the new and fresh spiritual power within you to meet the needs of other people. When you fast according to the Word of God, your spirit will be built up. It’s like supercharging your spiritual battery.
Here is what I have found that is so wonderful about fasting. Fasting brings the spirit of a person into closer union with the Holy Spirit and then into dominance over the flesh. It also restricts the influence of your physical appetites so that you can more effectively hear from and respond to the Lord. I think it’s important to understand that it’s not the fasting itself that brings the answers to your prayers or the power for deliverance. Fasting is not a method of twisting God’s arm to get Him to respond when you pray. God is always speaking to us and desires to interact with us. When we build up our spirit-man and suppress our flesh through fasting–we can hear Him more clearly. It’s is an amazing and awesome experience.
In closing remember that fasting doesn’t change God – it changes you.
With love and support to be all God wants you to be. Whatever you’re going through, keep the focus that with God nothing is impossible!
Dale and Paula Black
What Others are Saying:
Your video “My Flight of Faith” was incredible. Thank you for that encouraging message. From now on every day I am going to say out loud, “Nothing with God is impossible.” Don – Alberta, Canada
I so appreciate your ministry, I feel your heart in what you share and believe that God has called you to strengthen the Saints in this day and time, as well as win souls for His Kingdom. Pray His will be done through this ministry. I’m thankful that the Holy Spirit led me to your ministry. Roxanne – CA
Thank you for this crucial reminder: the importance of obedience. We need to understand that obeying means deciding for God’s best. His ways are always the way of life. Pastor Bill – MA
Dale sent me a signed copy of his book once. I treasure that copy. This morning – for the first time – I listened to his video in which he speaks of the anniversary flight. I was quite touched. I also liked his answer to the question about “the dead in Christ rising.” I want to listen to more videos and understand the work you’re doing. I have been in a staff pastor (Director of Counseling) and served as a Christian-based counselor for 35 years. Devereaux – AZ
Heart stirring, hearing this part of your testimony! I too have wept with joy at the powerful presence and love of God. There is no one such as God! He is true treasure. Praise the Lord Jesus! I love you and your wonderful ministry. Don – WA
Great message, God is GOOD! We are looking forward to having you bless us with your message of encouragement at our “RISE UP” Prayer Breakfast! Blessings, my Brother! Rev. Greg – TX
**(Capt. Dale will be speaking at the American Airlines Prayer Breakfast referenced above on August 24, 2018. If you are in the Dallas/Ft.Worth area and would like to attend, check out the EVENTS page on the DBM website for details.)
“Thank you for All you guys are doing for the Kingdom. May The Lord richly bless you. We hope to meet you one day.” Kathleen (Radio Talk Show Host) – FL
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I just now finished reading your book “Flight to Heaven”. Not only was this a great book to read, but it has helped to strengthen my faith. Thank you for writing it. I am going to give the book to my children to read. I thank our Lord for a brother like you who gives the gospel message to so many. I am 71 years old. I made the Lord my Saviour 48 years ago. Thank you so much for writing this book. See you in heaven one day Capt. Dale Black!
Dear Sister Shirley, thank you for your encouraging words. I will let Capt. Dale know that you were ministered to. We thank God, of course, for sparing Capt. Dale’s life so that he can share the amazing things that God has prepared for those who love Him. God bless you!-LR Prayer Coordinator