Fasting For Spiritual Breakthrough in 2023 by Shane Idleman
Special note: for those who need help in this area, we recently released a documentary on my 40-day fast that can be viewed here.
You choose: Will it be the pain of discipline or the pain of regret? One yields a sense of extreme fulfillment; the other, a lingering sense of defeat. Ironically, we pray for God to heal when we should also pray for the self-discipline to change harmful habits. Fasting is hard because self-denial is hard (discipline), and overindulging is not rewarding (regret). It becomes a never-ending cycle of defeat unless we break the cycle by choosing discipline over regret as we seek the will of God.
A Slave Either Way
God teaches us through discipline because He loves us. We are also encouraged to discipline our bodies to experience breakthroughs. We cannot effectively be filled with the Spirit and lack discipline. Our faith is not passive; it’s active faith.
Romans 6:16 (NASB) sheds much-needed light: “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?”
Either way, we are slaves — we are either God’s servants or a slave to our passions and desires. Self-discipline is a fruit of the Spirit, according to 2 Timothy 1:7.
Fasting is Not Legalistic
Those who say that fasting is legalism are dead wrong. We are called to yield to the Spirit and quench sin — but when we yield to sin, we quench the Spirit. The vast majority of the heroes of the faith fasted, and it’s still very common in many places. But in America, our fullness is our downfall. Leonard Ravenhill said, “When there’s something in the Bible that churches don’t like [such as fasting], they call it legalism.”
Fleshly appetites are subdued when fasting. Fasting is challenging because the flesh always wants to negotiate with us. It says, “Can’t we meet in the middle? Don’t completely remove food — that’s too extreme!”
Leaders are Called to Fast
Self-control is also required for leadership. In Titus 1:8 (NIV), Paul adds that a leader “must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.” John Wesley required fasting so that his leaders disciplined their appetites rather than allowing their appetites to rule them.