Believers want to grow closer to God. It is not always an easy pathway as our lives go through the usual ups and downs. Growing your relationship with God is a life’s journey. There will be times in our lives when we feel ourselves drifting away from God, especially when things are not going well. Fasting, reading the word of God, and praying will give us strength and help us grow closer to God.
Some of the many benefits of fasting are that it:
- Enables you to concentrate more on the spiritual world when you consciously give up worldly pleasures
- Leads to a greater intimacy with God by denying our carnal nature
- Helps you refocus on God when life gets too busy
The bible has many examples of people who grew closer to God by fasting. Barnabas and Paul prayed for God’s direction and fasted (Acts 14:23), Hannah fasted when she prayed for a son (I Samuel 1:7), and Jesus Christ fasted for 40 days before starting his ministry (Matthew 4:2).
Helps Us Hear God
For those who want to grow closer to God and hear when he speaks to them, fasting enables you to enter into a space without chaos and distraction. By not focusing on eating and giving your body a rest from digestion, you can become more sensitive to God’s voice. Food is not only necessary for our physical health, it is actually a form of pleasure in life. When we make the conscious effort to avoid food while we fast, we are denying ourselves one of our physical comforts while we focus on God. This teaches us to be self-disciplined, is an act of faith, can sharpen our awareness of the presence of God, and will improve our ability to clearly hear what he is telling us. “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV)
Cleanse Your Body and Soul
Fasting is common for both religious and health reasons as it can rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul by:
- Leading to more self-discovery: When you fast, you are taking away part of your daily routine giving you time for self-reflection
- Improving brain function: Fasting boosts the production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF.)
- Teaching self-control: By fasting, you are showing yourself that you can have control over your life and can be successful
- Learning to be grateful: When you break your fast, you can celebrate and be grateful for a period of time where you showed persistence and gave yourself time to self-reflect and connect with God
Fasting provides us the opportunity to remember the spiritual connection we have with our bodies. When we don’t eat, we are giving our digestive system a rest. This also allows our spirits to be detoxed.
Learn to Pray From the Heart with the Right Motives
Jesus said: “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” (Matthew 6:7). Prewritten repeated prayers will not bring you closer to God. Your goal is to develop a distinct, heartfelt, and personal relationship with Him. The more you focus on praying, the more sensitized you are as a result of fasting, the better you will be able to talk to and hear God with a grateful heart and a concern for things outside of yourself. “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:3)
More Energy and Focus for Prayer
When we eat, our body has to work to digest the food. This takes energy. We might also be preoccupied about what to eat, when, and where. When we fast, we don’t have to think about food, our body has more energy because there is no food to digest, giving us more strength and time to devote to praying.
Eating food is obviously a necessity but it never fully satisfies you because you will get hungry again and need to eat. When you are fed from your relationship with God, you will never be hungry or thirsty again. Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)