“Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Mt 9:14-17)
Fasting in the New Testament is not a specific command. God does not tell us specifically when or how to fast. The Holy Spirit must lead even in this area. Fasting is a spiritual exercise that has great benefits. It is a willing sacrifice, connected with prayer. It is not enough to admire people who fast and pray. You need to do it yourself to discover the value and reward of this, often forgotten, treasure. This is a good question: Why do we fast? This is the answer: To seek God afresh, to draw closer to Him.
The disciples of John the Baptist were a little confused seeing that the disciples of Jesus do not fast like them. The Christians seem to be worldlier than the religious Pharisees who fasted, prayed and tithed even their herbs. Our Lord explained to them the secret of true fasting in the Kingdom of God. When the King is in the midst of His people, happy and strong, with the Bride at His side, there is no need for the guests to fast. Just rejoice! There are times when prayer is easy. You just speak to the Lord directly and share in His joy. But if the King is ‘taken away’, His friends will miss Him, desire Him. Their longing to see His face again will lead them to fast and pray. They will not stop until He comes back and revives their spirits. The Cross always precedes the latter Joy!
Simply said, fasting is eating less food than usual. Fasting is a sign of mourning. Without food, your flesh ‘dies’. Surprisingly, your spirit gets stronger. Like the first flowers at springtime, pushing thru the snow, your spirit will break thru the spiritual slumber. Fasting brings revival; refreshes and encourages you spiritually. It is done in ‘secret’, for the King’s pleasure alone. God acknowledges and rewards your sacrifice with answer to prayers, healing, deliverance, increased anointing and greater intimacy in fellowship with Him.
Our Lord gives us two pictures: the new patch on an old garment and the new wine in old skins. These show us the difference between the old and the new, between religion and the Kingdom of God. Jesus is the King of kings. He brings a new way of serving God, full of power, mercy and joy. For the first time we see that religious rules and regulations are dangerous and dead. For example, Jesus touches a leper and heals him. In the Old Testament whoever touches a leper becomes unclean and disqualified for ministry. But Jesus reverses the flow and makes the man clean. This is the drama of Holiness on earth. But the religious leaders misunderstand and hate Jesus.
This is another example: When Jesus went to the house of Jairus, the flute players were already there. These are hired people to sing sad songs during burials. But Jesus sends them away. No need for weeping, fasting or mournful songs. The King is here, Eternal Life is here and the miracles will abound. Jesus touches the girl. She comes back to life. Immediately the fasting changes into a feast. The song of mourning becomes the song of joy. Weeping in the night is replaced by joy in the morning.
This is God’s promise: They who fast and pray for revival shall rejoice! Even so come Lord Jesus…
In Christ I declare:
God has heard my prayer!
My fasting shall be rewarded!
Revival shall come!
I reject religious spirits!
I am filled with the Holy Spirit!
Miracles of life are my portion!
In Jesus name