Fasting is a period during which you do not eat food for a religious or health reason (8th Edition Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary).
In Christendom, fasting is practiced along with prayer. It is that moment the body is deprived of food and focussed on prayer. Fasting could be another word for quiet time with God in prayer without food or pleasure.
In the Biblical times, fasting was one of the criteria for an individual to be recognized as a Prophet (kind of Jewish Prophetic tradition). Almost all the prophets (major or minor) fasted in their time before and/or during their ministry.
But why did Jesus practice fasting but discouraged his followers from attempting to fast? This question must have echoed on your mind when you read the title above. The answer to this question is:
BEFORE THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF Jesus and as a TRADITION IN JUDAISM,
a. TO OVERCOME TEMPTATIONS THAT COULD DESTROY YOUR MINISTRY YOU NEED TO FAST AND PRAY (Matt. 4:1-11, Mk. 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13),
b. TO CAST OUT STUBBORN DEMONS DURING YOUR MINISTRY YOU NEED TO FAST AND PRAY (Matt. 17:21)
c. Before you commence or to be successful in your prophetic ministry you need to fast and pray (Luke 4:14-15)
d. To be accepted by the people as a true-prophet or disciple-of-a-prophet you need to fast and pray (Matt. 9:14, Mk. 2:18, Luke 5:33)
You may ask, didn’t Jesus teach about fasting? Yes He did teach how to fast in Matt. 6:16-18 but not for you as a Christian. He was addressing what he observed as the doings of the hypocrites.
Jesus fasted once throughout his ministry and lifetime as a human. However, He did it before he commence his ministry, not “during” or “after”.
In addition, he taught his disciples never to fast as long as he “was” and “is” “with them” (Matt. 9:15). If you’re a Bible scholar, you should be able to get the point already with the quoted “was” , “is” and “with them”. However, let us get the scriptural references to this claim.
Jesus brought a new doctrine when He fed four thousand and five thousand people. His disciples were somewhat playing ignorance and he tried to explain and asked why they were still yet to understand (Mark 8:14-21). They forgot that the Doctrine of Jesus is not for starvation (fasting). To make this claim stronger, Jesus cursed a tree when He was hungry. Mark 11:12-25.
In Matt. 9:15, Mk. 2:19 and Luke 5:34 Jesus defended his disciples for not fasting. He supported them to eat and drink always as long as He is with them. Now, this is where the maths seem a bit tricky.
You may be thinking that after the resurrection, Jesus was taken away from His disciples so they needed to fast. Well, the only places where the Bible mentioned that Jesus was away from His disciples was during his crucifixion.
The three days that Jesus lied in the grave were the only period the disciples of Jesus needed to fast and pray because He was taken away from them.
When Jesus resurrected from the dead, He proclaimed to His disciples that He is WITH THEM ALWAYS TO THE END OF LIFE (Matt. 28:20), that affirms his response to the disciples of John in Matt. 9:15, Mk. 2:19 and Luke 5:34, when they asked why His disciples eat and drink while “other” disciples and prophets fast.
Ever since, Jesus has always been with the Christians through the Holy Spirit. That takes fasting out of the picture as a necessity for anything. Even, the name “Jesus” is so powerful that you don’t need to fast in order to cast out Demons, heal the sick, etc. (Luke 9:49, Acts 3:6).
Due to the temptations of the world that could limit one’s faith, Jesus instruct every Christian to pray (Matt. 5:44-45, Luke 6:28, Matt. 6:5-15, 7:7-11, 18:19-20, 21:13, Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46, Matt. 21:21-22, etc.)
Fasting is recommended for you since you’re surrounded with forces that could tamper with your faith as a Christian (1st Cor. 7:5).
If you’re under any health condition that demand you to eat regularly or you’re pregnant, please do not fast; else, you’ll end up causing more harm to yourself in the name of serving God. Eat your regular meals and pray for God will still answer your prayers. If men could understand that your condition demands some principles, how much more God…
Do not think that you must fast for some certain prayers to be answered. However, if your faith makes you think that Jesus is not with you as a Christian (which is never true), then you can starve (fast), or punish your body as you want. But if you know the truth, you need to BELIEVE in the name of Jesus and do your prayer (that alone is enough for anything to happen).