Bible Society of South Africa
Benescke Janse van Rensburg

Draw near to God – Day 19

Draw near to God in prayer and fasting

Bible text(s)

Teaching about Fasting

16“And when you fast, do not put on a sad face as the hypocrites do. They neglect their appearance so that everyone will see that they are fasting. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. 17When you go without food, wash your face and comb your hair, 18so that others cannot know that you are fasting — only your Father, who is unseen, will know. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.

Matthew 6:16-18GNBOpen in Bible reader

29“Only prayer can drive this kind out,” answered Jesus; “nothing else can.”

Mt 17.22–23Lk 9.43b–45

Mt 18.1–5Lk 9.46–48

Lk 9.49–50

Mt 18.6–9Lk 17.1–2

A few years ago, I had a talk about the value of prayer and fasting on my radio show. There were interesting responses. One listener said it was not applicable any longer. The vast majority of listeners, however, testified that they had experienced God’s presence in their lives in a fresh way, during a time of fasting and prayer, and many testified about breakthroughs. Amongst these testimonies, were listeners testifying about financial breakthroughs, relief from emotional pain, marriages that were restored, depression that was healed, communities that were transformed, children being set free from the clutches of drug addiction, and one listener even testified that she became pregnant during a time of fasting, after doctors said it was impossible for her to have her own children. This is what God can do.

Was it the fasting that made the difference? No. It was God. The fasting was merely an opportunity and manner in which a person or persons started looking away from the challenge to focus on God. As they did it, they experienced their hearts began to beat with God’s. That made the difference.

What is fasting? Fasting is when we refrain from consuming food (sometimes water too) to seek God’s face. It is not a magic formula or a quick way to lose weight. Nor is it a way to manipulate God to give us what we want. It is a season in which we seek God’s presence, regardless of receiving a breakthrough or not.

Is it biblical to fast? Throughout the Bible, we read about believers fasting to seek God’s face. Esther fasted for three days before pleading with the king for the Jews’ survival; Daniel and his friends fasted for 21 days, while in exile, for wisdom; Jesus fasted for 40 days before starting His ministry, and even in the Book of Acts, we read that believers fasted and prayed before major decisions were taken.

How to fast? In Matthew 6:16-18 Jesus said: “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and dishevelled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth … when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”

Do you need a breakthrough in your family, your workplace, your financial situation, or even in your marriage? In Mark 9:29, the disciples asked Jesus why they struggled to cast out some evil spirits. Only Jesus could do it. He answered that the hold of some evil spirits can only be broken by prayer and fasting. Is it not perhaps time for you to consider a period of fasting in which you can seek God’s face? Regardless of receiving a breakthrough or not, I can guarantee you, you will not be the same when your heart starts beating with His. God bless.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.14.1
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