Sharing God's grace to walk in fullness of identity and power

What Does Fasting Look Like Under Grace? And Should You Do It? (part 2/2)

This is part 2 about “fasting.” If you’ve missed the first part I encourage you to go there first: click here.

Fasting under grace

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Fasting to drive out demons

When Jesus’ disciples could not cast the demon out of the young boy and asked why, Jesus says, “This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matt. 17:21). This whole sentence is not in the original Greek, but was added by man!

Mark’s version read “So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29). Also here the word “fasting” is a man-made invention. It does not appear in the original text!

Fasting during Pentecost

For years I’ve believed that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 was connected to the amount of praying and fasting of the 120 people in the Upper room.

Due to my desire to see revival in my the Netherlands, I’ve organized weekly revival meeting to tarry until the Spirit would come upon us. I called it after Acts 1 and 2 “The Upper Room times.”

Now, there’s nothing wrong with fasting or prayer and desiring to see signs and miracles, but the Bible does not say that, “when their prayer and worship had reached a fevered pitch, suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting”; nor does it say that “when the prayer bowls in heaven had been filled to their tipping point, then suddenly…”; nor does it say that, “when their days of fasting were completed, then suddenly…”. It says, “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come…suddenly” (Acts 2:1-2).

You see, the amount of prayer, fasting, agonizing, travailing, spiritual hunger, or tears had nothing to do with the original outpouring on Pentecost.

It was about timing, and fulfilling the shadow of Pentecost

Unfortunately, we have mythologized the event preceding Pentecost, imagining the disciples to have been in constant prayer and fasting for ten straight days, when finally, once they had “prayed through”, God opened the heavens and came down. Yes, they were constantly joining in prayer with one another, but they also conducted business, cast lots to replace Judas, and I’m sure many other things which we have no record of.

The amount of prayer preceding the day of Pentecost had nothing to do with the impact of the outpouring. Jesus did not say that they were required to cloister themselves away and “lay hold of the horns of the altar” until God came down! They were simply told to “wait”. (Luke 24:49)

Wait for what? For the day of Pentecost to fully come so that the feast could be fulfilled.

It’s amazing how we have read into, and romanticized certain portions of scripture over the years, using them as patterns and recipes for revival. Acts 1 and 2 are not blueprints on how to tap into, and produce revival. They are historical accounts of how the original Pentecostal outpouring took place.

We are not called to “tarry” in order to receive the Spirit. We simply drink from the fountain which was opened and unleashed upon that day. There is nothing wrong with fasting, but don’t do it to try to get God to do something that He’s already done. (Thanks to Jeff Turner for this writing on Pentecost)

Other fasting examples

1 Cor. 7:5 is often quoted as proof that fasting is prescribed for believers who are under grace.

Fasting explainedThat passage says that abstinence from sex in marriage is only acceptable for a short period of time for purposes of prayer. Although your translation may also add “fasting,” in the orginal Greek text the word “fasting” is absent. The translator might have been zealous for fasting, but apparently not too concerned about tampering God’s Word.

Fasting is used in rare occasions by the apostles to help clear their heads so they could focus to make a big governmental discision, like appointing elders of leaders (Acts 13:2, 14:23). And when Pauls mentions fasting, like in 2 Cor. 6:5, 11:27, keep in mind that the word “fasting” often has a broader meaning such as merly “having no food” or “having no water.”

What does fasting look like under grace?

Fasting ultimately means to give up something or to abstain from something. Often we’ve made this to mean food, but it can apply to anything, in particular to things that feed our flesh. When we give “food” to our flesh, we strenghten our flesh, and thus are proned to walk after the flesh.

For example, the preaching of the law is food to our flesh, therefore giving strength to our flesh. The moment you embark on Christ-centred, grace based teachings, that is the moment you start your fasting!

Because you have abstained yourself from legalistic teaching, you’ve stopped supplying “food” to your flesh and you’ll start walking after the Spirit. This is Grace-based living.

In other words, Grace-based living is per definition a fasted lifestyle. It’s fasting legalistic teaching, condemnation, greed, laziness, negativity, selfishness, worrying, shame, sin, sickness, unforgiveness, depression etc.

In this sense, we live a fasted lifestyle because abstaining from any negative “food” to our flesh is not an occasional thing. There isn’t a day you’re not fasting if you live in Grace.

If you enjoy a natural fast, go for it. But why not have a supernatural fast?

As long as you feast on Jesus and His finished work by default you’re fasting everything that’s contrary to the Gospel of grace.

To conclude

Under Grace, you don’t have to fast. It isn’t a required practice for the believer. However there’s nothing wrong with fasting, do it if it helps you clear you mind or hear God better or maybe for health reasons, but don’t do it to try to twist God’s arm to give you something or to do things for us.

He has already accomplished everything in the Person and work of Christ.

Based on the finished work of Christ, we do not fast, pray or practice any discipline to:

  • try to become what we already are

  • beg and cry out to God to give us things that we already have

  • ask God to do what He’s already done

  • plead with God to do things He commanded us to do

fasting

God doens’t want us going on a hunger strike to prove to Him how serious we are. Nor does He want us starving ourselves to try and change His mind.

Also, don’t fast because you heard a testimony that made it sound skipping a cheeseburger was the cause of a healing, miracle, breakthrough, or whatever. Fasting doesn’t cause any of these supernatural results, only faith does!

Under Grace, you are called to feast upon Jesus. You are free, however, to choose to abstain from physical pleasures to do so, but know that it’s not to make God happy, but for your satisfaction. Instead of turning to things of this world for satisfaction, we turn to God for our ultimate satisfaction and pleasure. God desires for you to know true pleasure, and to know it in the context of His constant abiding presence.

Some people ask me, if I still fast. My answer is, “Yes, every day. But it’s seldom food. And instead of having regular Upper Room times, I enjoy permanent Throne Room times!

Enjoy your 24/7 fasted lifestyle under Grace.

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Comments

  1. Interesting thoughts, Bas. I really enjoy you taking time to share this, something more to think about…

  2. Hi Bas,
    i totally agree that fasting is not required! However, i do know that there are times where He will lead us to set food, or other things, aside that we might see that He Himself is our Bread and our Life. One of the most profound moments of my life was in 2010, when He led me into a 40-day fast from solid food. It was an astoundingly wonderful time of simply hearing Him more clearly and seeing that HE is all we need or want. As i fasted from food, but feasted on Him and His Word, i actually gained some physical weight during days 23-25… it was astounding.

    He is so good to us, and it seems that the spiritual disciplines, when pursued under the guidance of His Spirit, simply help us begin to see who we really are in Him – and to see Him more clearly in His wonderful beauty! This is a delightful place! To know Him. To simply abide with the Great Lover of our souls. Oh my, what a joy!
    Mak

    • Bas Rijksen says:

      Thank you for sharing. Great example from your own life too. I totally agree; since we live by the leading of the indwelling Spirit we can be led to all sorts of fasting, including abstaining from food. Fasting has some great benefits as is also clear from what you’ve experienced. The purpose of this post however is to only answer the question, as the title suggests, what does fasting look like under grace and is it required? So it’s purpose is to show that indeed not required, but that if you fast, then do it from the right motives (not from these religious motives that I’ve mentioned). What a thrill to continue to enjoy our amazing Father. Keep up the good work Mak!

  3. Tyrone Stephens says:

    Hi Bas
    Love your teaching on fasting. It has cleared up so many misconceptions that I have been led to believe. I was led to fast by the Lord recently and that was purely for health reasons. God really came through for me. He is awesome. I would like to know your thoughts on why Jesus went into the wilderness to fast for 40 days and nights.
    God bless you and continue with the great work.
    Tyrone

  4. Stuart Graham says:

    Hi Bas

    I really enjoyed reading these two blogs of fasting. They confirmed much of what I have already come to believe that most of what passes for fasting these days is just religious rubbish, so very encouraging to know I’m on the right track. I was interested in the comment you made in the section about fasting to drive out demons where you say that some text was added to the original Greek by the translators. I use the KJV because it is the one most free from denominational bias and in there any text added by the translators is printed in italics. The two verses you mentioned are not italicised so I was wondering where your information comes from.

    Blessings!!

  5. Peter Campbell says:

    Hi Bas

    Regarding Matt 17:21 – the Greek does look like it has fasting in it. I’m not a Greek reader so I rely on an interlinear – but the word νηστεια is in the Greek, and this according to Strongs #3521 means voluntary fasting for religious reasons.

    Yours in Christ

    Peter