11 Purposes of Fasting
By Pastor Bill Murchison
We have seen many different purposes for fasting. They include: 1) making our voices heard on high, 2) mourning and showing deep sorrow, 3) repenting of sin, and 4) seeking protection from our enemies. Today, I want to look at a fifth purpose: spiritual alertness and discernment.
In one of my fasts, I had not eaten for over twenty days, and I accompanied our Leadership Team to the Steak & Ale near the Cumberland Mall in Atlanta. I only went for the fellowship, as I was still on my fast. As we sat down at the table, I could smell and discern every food item on each plate of everyone in the room that we were seated in. I did not need to go around to each table and look, I could smell the foods at each table. I had never experienced such a sharp sense of smell.
On another occasion, on the day that fasted every week, a young man named Jim entered my office and was very distraught. He worked in a different department, but within the same company. I immediately discerned that the man was being chased by a demon. He came into my office asking for help. That spiritual discernment was a result of fasting and being spiritually alert.
Researchers tell us that the sense that is most dulled after eating is our hearing. My personal experience has been that all of our senses are sharpened when we fast, not just our hearing or smell. I have also found that our spiritual senses are more alert during fasts.
The Scriptures tell us to be alert. We are to be alert because our adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). We are to be alert in our prayers and petitions, which is given to us in the context of spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:18). We are to be alert because of false teachers and wolves that will come after the flock (Acts 20:31). We are to be alert because we do not know when the Master is coming back (Mark 13:35-37). One of the things that we can do to be spiritually alert is to fast.
Father, I ask You to give us spiritual alertness during our corporate fast. Give us discernment. Open up our spirits, our hearts, our eyes, and our ears. Help us be alert, and to hear what the Spirit is telling us. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.