We are familiar with this bible story, when Jesus was led up into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. This was after Jesus completed a forty day fast before commencing his ministry. Satan took the opportunity to tempt Jesus, because he knew that he was tired and hungry. The antidote for the devil’s temptation was the written word of God. John taught us that in the beginning was the word, the word was with God and the word was God (John 1:1). Fasting is a strategy to undo the heavy burdens of sin, to break yokes of bondage and to set the oppressed free (Isaiah 58:6).
Fasting helps to destroy the works of the flesh and is a good strategy to help with breaking sinful habits. The discipline of fasting helps to put the works of the flesh under subjection. Jesus also taught his disciples about the boy who needed deliverance, that some types of deliverance required fasting and prayer (Matthew 17:21). Jesus also scolded them about their unbelief and said that they needed faith. In addition to fasting and prayer, we need to develop a sound understanding of the word, which increases faith. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
Many people have been involved in marathon fasting and prayer sessions for weeks at a time, without seeing results. This can be due to an approach which views this as a spiritual exercise, rather than to develop intimacy with God. A lack of understanding of the scripture, can cause our prayers to go amiss (James 4:3). We have to remember that is not in our own strength that we gain victory, but by the spirit of the Lord. I am not against fasting and prayer by any means. What I am trying to convey, is the importance of fasting that is based on firm understanding.
Many people want to pray hot, spirit filled prayers without the knowledge of the word. An effective prayer strategy is praying the word of God. “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130). In essence, teaching people the word of God can set them free from the chains of bondage. Although Jesus fasted for forty days, he used the word to resist the devil’s temptations. Knowing the word will teach you how to resist the devil and to stand firm against his schemes. We need a biblical understanding to support effective fasting, prayer and deliverance.