Many Christians (and people of other faiths) mistakenly believe that spiritual fasting is the practice of simply going without eating for a period. Not so.
While going without food for a time is beneficial for the mind, body, and spirit; the Bible gives a clear and explicit definition of what God expects and what sort of fasting he honors. It’s found in Isaiah Chapter 58 and really needs no explanation…
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD ?
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
In Mark Chapter 9 the apostles came to Jesus after they unsuccessfully tried to expel demons. When asked why they couldn’t Jesus said “This kind comes out only by prayer and fasting.” (Some manuscripts say by prayer only).
The power of fasting as described in Isaiah 58 is the power of righteousness. It’s the power of self-sacrifice and others-service. It’s the very power of becoming Christ-like.
*Always consult your physician before attempting extended periods without food
New International Version of the Bible