A Different Kind of Hunger: Fasting to Increase Our Faith

an empty blue dinner plate on a blue woven placement with a fork beside it to signify fasting

By Rosann Coulon

It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done––but I did it. I completed a 21-day Daniel Fast for the first time. 

Choosing to abstain from meat, dairy, and sugar was difficult, but it increased my faith in ways I never expected.

After a season of grief and unending trials, I felt disjointed and stagnant in my soul. My health was suffering from bad food choices and a lack of discipline. 

Along with that, I was praying some big prayers––for the healing of a loved one, direction in my writing ministry, and salvation for lost family members. 

One day, kneeling with my forehead resting on my Bible, the Spirit posed a question to my heart. Are you willing to fast? 

I admit that excitement was not my first emotion. 

But I told Jesus, “If you help me, I will fast.”

In the Western world, feasting is often the norm, and fasting is the exception. Many churches rarely promote the practice of spiritual fasting. 

Yet, the Bible is filled with examples of those who fasted: 

  • Ezra declared a fast and prayed for safety as the Israelites began their journey out of Babylon to Jerusalem (Ezr 8:21, 22).
  • Daniel fasted from food that was forbidden by Jewish custom during his servanthood to the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar (Dn 1:8).
  • Queen Esther called on the Jews to fast with her for three days and nights before she approached the king without an invitation from him––which could have resulted in her death (Est 4:15, 16). 
  • Jesus fasted forty days and nights to draw near to God (Mt 4:2).

But why should we fast today? 

a Christian woman with her head bowed and hands folded in prayer and fasting

Three Spiritual Benefits of Fasting

1 – Fasting cultivates a reliance on God for strength.

 ”But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’  Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9 HCSB

When I tried the 21-day Daniel Fast, I assumed it would be manageable because I was consuming food. 

Yet on day three, trembling in weakness, I found myself crying out to God for strength in the pages of my journal.

The words of Paul echoed in my mind: “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness’” (2 Cor 12:9). 

Fasting revealed a truth I would not have encountered otherwise because I experienced it in my own body. 

God sustained me in my physical weakness and enabled me to carry on.

God desires for us to acknowledge that it’s by His grace alone we’re able to accomplish the smallest tasks. 

And feeling fragile in our physical bodies opens our eyes to our need for the strength, preservation, and provision of God. 

Trading my weakness for the strength of the Spirit of God at my lowest point reminded me that I can trust God’s strength in any circumstance I face. 

This promise sustained me until the last seconds of my fast.

2 – Fasting directs our focus to the Word of God.

“Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed, for they will be filled.” – Matthew 5:6 HCSB

Reading the Bible is part of my daily routine; my day starts with coffee and Scripture. 

But during the fast, I discovered that while my body ached for food, my spirit hungered for the Word of God beyond a morning habit. 

The dead places in my heart were revived by the Holy Spirit as I hungered and thirsted for the Bible.

When we set aside time for fasting, we commit to blocking out unnecessary distractions. 

Television, scrolling social media, and trips to shopping centers are often too distracting. And pictures and smells of restricted foods could spell failure.

A time for fasting creates an opportunity for more time in the Bible. This allows for Scripture to become more real to us––a wonderful blessing!

the Holy Bible surrounded by various loaves of artisan bread

3 – Fasting helps us to hear God’s voice more clearly.

“Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and incomprehensible things you do not know.” – Jeremiah 33:3 HCSB

For the longest time, I was afraid of missing the voice of God. I found it difficult to make decisions, and any decision I made left me questioning whether I had made the right one. 

One of the simplest ways God speaks to His children is through His Word. 

As I focused more on the Bible and continued to bring my prayer requests to Him, I began to hear His voice in the quiet. 

In Jeremiah 29:13 HCSB, we find this promise: You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” 

As my heart laid down the things of the world, I heard the Lord speaking fresh hope into what felt like hopeless situations. For that, fasting was worth every discomfort.

Maybe the Daniel Fast isn’t for you right now. 

But it’s okay to start slow. 

Perhaps fast one meal and slowly progress to a full day. Or consider fasting from sugar, a preferred beverage, or a favorite food. 

Ask the Lord how He might want you to incorporate fasting into your routine. 

God will provide the strength you need to fast. He will show His grace in your weakness, reveal Himself through Scripture, and speak hope to your heart.

Rosann Coulon

Rosann Coulon has experienced disappointment, pain, and loss. Through it all, she’s learned that God is faithful. She desires to spread biblical hope and encouragement to those living in hard seasons. Rosann has written for various online publications, including Gather at Dawn, Just Between Us, and Calla Press. Visit Rosann’s website to receive free, encouraging resources. Connect with her on Instagram and Pinterest.

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