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What Happens When You Fast? 4 Spiritual Benefits of Fasting

Jessica Galán

iBelieve Contributor
Updated Feb 22, 2024
What Happens When You Fast? 4 Spiritual Benefits of Fasting
For those of us who long for spiritual intimacy with the Father, fasting and prayer affords us the opportunity to do so. Here are four spiritual benefits fasting can bring.

Are you desiring a spiritual breakthrough this new year? Hoping this year will bring a loved one’s complete surrender to Christ? You might want to consider fasting and prayer.

What is Fasting?

Fasting is usually regarded as refraining from certain foods during specific days or periods. However, fasting means more than simply foregoing foods. It also may include abstaining from marital relations and limiting entertainment, for example. Certainly, it is a time when there is increased focus on withholding from immoral actions and thoughts.

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." (Matthew 6:16-18)

"And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed." (Acts 14:23)

"One should make use of food daily to the extent that the body, fortified, may be the friend and assistant of the soul in the practice of virtue. Otherwise, the soul may weaken because it is exhausted.” ~ Seraphim of Sarov

For those of us who long for spiritual intimacy with the Father, fasting, and prayer afford us the opportunity to do so. Here are four spiritual benefits fasting can bring:

Fasting Leads to Greater Intimacy

We deny our carnal nature in order to fulfill the desires of God. What He wills for our lives can be found through fasting and prayer.

Our spirit and soul experience joy because of fasting. It’s a decision to momentarily die to our flesh to fulfill the greater things of a mighty God who seeks us.

“The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day, {Mark 2:20}.

Know that the sacrificial elements of fasting always incurs eternal benefits. There are those we want to win for Christ this year. Our temporary physical discomfort has spiritual rewards.

We Surrender Our Comfort to Gain Spiritual Clarity

Our 21st-century culture can lead us to become numb to what matters to God, yet praying through a fast challenge sharpens our spiritual discernment.

  • We can fast from things: social media, television, food, even a negative mindset.
  • We can fast for things: those yet surrendered to Christ, our local church, and our neighborhoods.

We gain wisdom and guidance through fasting. We are able to discern the will of God through fasting and deep prayer.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God,” {Romans 12:2}.

Opens Our Hearts to Spiritual Revival

We kindle Holy Spirit fire as we fast and pray. We become change agents and intercessors for the broken and hurting during a fast. Our hearts are revived and refreshed spiritually because of it.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem…and to the end of the earth,” {Acts 1:8}.

Empowerment flows when we pray and fast. We are that much more able to press into the greatest commission of all—gaining souls for an eternal harvest, (see Matthew 28).

Prayer and Fasting Breaks Satanic Strongholds

When Jesus’s disciples were unable to deliver a young boy of an evil spirit, Jesus told them, “This kind cannot come out, except by prayer,” (see Mark 9:29). Praying while fasting positions us victoriously.

Through deep prayer, we can combat spiritual opposition and satanic strongholds.

When difficulties arise, Christ-Followers have the ability to harness the potential of the Holy Spirit through fasting and prayer.

Our barren hearts are refreshed and revived when we fast and pray. We are better equipped to deal with the momentary trials we’ll face on earth because we’re aligned with God, his angels, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness…to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke?” {Isaiah 58:6}.

We are equipped with dunamis might or strength (See Strong’s Concordance 1411) to combat the enemy’s opposition.

Easing Your Way into a Fast

If you’ve never fasted before, begin slowly. For those with dietary constraints, fast from social media or other comforts unrelated to food.

  • Begin by skipping one or two daily meals; replace food with prayer and petitions.
  • Write the names of loved ones who you’re fasting for in a journal or prayer card.
  • Come out of a fast gradually by eating broths and vegetables; don’t consume rich or heavy foods immediately.

Celebrate spiritual breakthroughs when they arrive; trust that God sees and hears your earnest prayer and sacrifice.  

St. Augustine of Hippo once said, “BY THE HELP of the merciful Lord our God, the temptations of the world, the snares of the Devil, the suffering of the world, the enticement of the flesh, the surging waves of troubled times, and all corporeal and spiritual adversities are to be overcome by … fasting, and prayer.”

When We Deny our Flesh, our Spiritually Cravings are Fortified.

Fasting and sacrificial prayer will not go in vain. It will always benefit those in your immediate circle and in the lives of Christ-followers in your community.

Let God be good to you through fasting and prayer in this new season of your life. As Psalm 34:8 declares to us all, “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him, (KJV).

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/eddiestock

Jessica Galán encourages her readers to embrace malleability in the midst of life’s difficult moments. She spends her day teaching amazing students from diverse backgrounds in Fairfield County, Connecticut. She’s wife to a super-creative man and the proud mother of three resilient young women. She’s served as a writing facilitator for Lysa TerKeurst through COMPEL Training. She enjoys daily cups of steaming hot café con Leche and breaks out in sporadic salsa dancing when no one’s looking. You’ll find her stories at http://www.jessicagalan.net/. Connect with her here: Twitter