Building the Mental Power to Fast
Fasting is more challenging mentally than it is physically. If you want to succeed in fasting to deepen your faith and relationship with God, you will need to hold strong in your mind when the flesh and body try to get you to quit.
An Experience of Mine While Fasting
In the middle of my 40-day fast, I took a trip to Ukraine to preach at a church. The only reason I agreed to do this was because my pastor said that I should. He had done a 40-day fast before and I trust- ed his wisdom in this. Someone blessed us with first-class tickets to Ukraine. It was my first time flying first class on an international flight—a totally different experience from normal flying. I had a bed, pillow, and blankets. A flight attendant asked what we want- ed to order for dinner. Now, my wife wasn’t fasting. While I was fasting, she was feasting—so she requested a delicious meal. She was sitting right next to me. Man, that meal looked so good! I wasn’t hungry, but it was torture knowing that food was available.
It was my first time going to Ukraine in 20 years, and I was flying first class. Thoughts started going through my head: Just stop the fast for three days. Enjoy your life and then resume the fast after the trip. I knew it was from the devil, because if I ate the meal they offered as my first meal after 20 days of fasting, I would get instantly sick and could potentially hurt my stomach and die. Also, I was already halfway through the fast.
I learned something very quickly that day: fasting is more difficult mentally than physically. In fact, fasting exposes how weak we are mentally. The first few days of fasting are usually uncomfortable physically with headaches, fatigue, mood swings, etc., but after that it’s smooth sailing.
I couldn’t understand one verse about fasting until I experienced it myself:
And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.Matthew 4:2
It says Jesus was hungry after 40 days of fasting. I used to read this and think there must be a mistake, because I get hungry after 40 minutes of fasting. Well, maybe it was because Jesus was so sin- less that He didn’t get hungry for something that we mortals get tempted with. But then again, we know that Jesus was 100% God and 100% human. Jesus had the same physical needs that we have. He got hungry after 40 days. I experienced the same thing after my 40-day commitment to fasting. No, I am not like Jesus—not even close yet.
Satan Attacks the Mind
It is interesting that when Jesus felt hungry is when Satan tempted Him with food. That was the first temptation of the Lord in the wilderness. I truly believe that is what happens during fasting.
Most of the temptation during fasting happens in our head, not in our belly, in other words, they are mental, not physical. That doesn’t mean there is no physical hardship when you fast, but my point is that most of the time fasting is more challenging to your mind than to your stomach.
In fact, we see that with Daniel. God saw Daniel when he set his heart to humble himself, which in the original Hebrew is another word for fasting. From the first day that he set his heart to fast, God had al- ready answered his petitions.
Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.”Daniel 10:12 (NKJV)
Make up Your Mind
I want to share a secret with you about how to finish your fast.
Every time I start a fast with the mentality of, “I will see how I feel, ”I never finish it. Thoughts like that are an open door for temptation to lure you out of what God has called you to do. Once you make up your mind to fast, you will realize how powerful thoughts are. God responds to them. You will be able to overcome your mental temptations to eat if you have already made up your mind to fulfill your commitment.
If an emergency should arise that causes you to stop, don’t feel guilty if you can’t finish your fast. However, making up your mind first adds determination to your decision to go through with it. Once you complete the fast, your mind gets clearer, and your willpower gets stronger. The devil will try to mess with your head during a fast—resist him with the Word.
Make up your mind! Stick with your decision to fast. Add determination to that decision to finish your fast. If it’s worth starting, it’s worth finishing!
Excerpt taken from Fast Forward: Accelerate Your Spiritual Life with Fasting
Get Weekly Content.Sign up below to receive weekly emails and updates.
I pray this was a blessing. Please share this blog and let me know what you think!