Fasting in Spiritual Warfare

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This month we finish up our series on spiritual warfare. We have seen that God has fully equipped us to face the battle in the spiritual realm. The last “weapon” we will look at is fasting. Let’s face it, fasting is one of the most difficult spiritual disciplines we can do. I don’t know too many people who actually enjoy denying themselves food for a period of time. Yet, it is a discipline practiced both in the old covenant and the new. Our Lord Jesus did a 40-day fast at the beginning of His ministry (Matthew 4:2). The disciples didn’t fast while they were with Jesus, but certainly did after He had ascended (Matthew 9:15, Acts 13:1-4, Acts 10:30-31, Acts 14:23). Fasting is a weapon of warfare that I’m still trying to get my head around. But maybe, just maybe, we don’t need to try to understand it. Maybe we just need to do it!

There’s an interesting case in the gospels where a father comes to Jesus about his boy who is being harassed by a deaf and mute spirit (Matthew 17:14-21, Mark 9:14-29). He asks the disciples to cast the demon out. But they can’t. Jesus is then summoned to do the job. He, of course, casts it out and, when asked why the disciples couldn’t, in addition to saying that they had a lack of faith, the response was “this kind can come out only by prayer.” Some biblical manuscripts say “prayer and fasting.”

As we have seen, Jesus already said that the disciples didn’t need to fast while He was with them, so why this comment? Could it be that they weren’t operating in the power of the Spirit? In Luke’s account of the 40 days, we see that afterwards Jesus “returned in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14). He was already “full of the Spirit” after His baptism (Luke 4:1), but was there something in the fact that He dedicated Himself for a certain period of time to fasting that released the “power” of the Spirit? In reality, I don’t have the answer. However, I do know that fasting is impactful, when done with the right motive, to help remove distraction, increase our dependence on God, to help us be more in tune with the Spirit and to help bring breakthrough in the spiritual realm. I challenge you to seek the Lord more about this discipline, whether it be reading a book, asking the Lord about when and how to fast or talking to people who know more about this than we do. In the meantime, the invitation is there to fast at least one day a month, on the first Monday, as we seek the Lord to rescue and save our lost young people.

This month

  • Read the passages outlined above. Read them a second time, highlighting anything that stands out to you.
  • Ask the Lord if He’s inviting you into a period of fasting.
  • Read our fasting guidelines here.
  • If you feel led, look up a book to dig deeper (e.g. The Jesus Fast by Lou Engle and Dean Briggs, The Atomic Power with God through Fasting by Franklin Hall, Shaping History through Prayer and Fasting by Derek Prince).

Lyndal Walker
International Prayer Director