Fasting is a time when you put a stop on eating food so that you can spend that time in prayer. It’s not the same as dieting therefore where the purpose is to lose weight instead of doing worship.
In other religions fasting is seen as a way to appease their gods to grant them a wish so that they make their life better. Due to this they have specific times in the year dedicated to fasting. Now even in the Christian faith we do fast at times, though we are free to fast whenever the Holy Spirit leads us. Here the emphasis on fasting is not gain favors from the Lord. Instead here we are to fast so as to concentrate on the things of the Spirit and pay little (or no) attention to things of the earth. This doesn’t mean we neglect our earthly responsibilities.
What happens in the course of eating too much? People sometimes get too engrossed in worldly things that they miss out on discipline. We are called to hear the voice of Jesus the good shepherd. At times others voices too call out to us which must be rejected if they try to lead us away from God. These are the voices of fame, fortune, pleasure, food and drink etc.
If one is too engrossed in satisfying his physical needs alone, it gives the Devil a chance to tempt him. Not that you can’t resist him even then but when you are balanced and sober you can really fight back really hard against the Evil one.
Though the below verse doesn’t relate directly to fasting, it shows us that the word of God is supersedes our physical needs.
Matthew 4:4 But Jesus answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Keep away from worldly pleasures if you are to walk closely with God. Remember the story of Esau in Genesis 25:29-34 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
Due to his over indulgence to the needs of the flesh, Esau lost out on his heritage both in the physical and supernatural. Now his behavior is an extreme case, though the lesson we are to learn from this is never to value things of the flesh no matter how legal they seem, more than the things of the Lord God.
In the same way at certain times in your life one must keep away from things that could distract you from seeking God even if they seem sincere. This could even mean keeping away from food (temporarily) so that you can worship God and hear his voice.
Now a word of caution, fasting or not fasting is not a trick to manipulate God into blessing you. Nor is fasting with foolish intentions or wicked living ever encouraged in the Bible.
1 Corinthians 8:8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.
Isaiah 58:3-7 ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
When you fast take some time to seek to the Lord in prayer. If you are working then adjust your timings or even take a leave so that you can fast and pray together. The reason for this is that you don’t gain notice of others who may praise you for fasting. Matthew 6:18 says that, 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.
Worship God out of respect for him. Fast because you want to show you value the Lord over your physical need to have food. No need to go on fasting forever nor to injure yourself due to self neglect. Fasting of a day or two is fine, maybe more if your body permits. If you are on medication or have come out of surgery then do consult your doctor before going on a fast.
It’s highly advisable that during such times of fasting and prayer that you read the Bible and meditate on it. Try to find out what the Holy Spirit wants to you read in the Bible. Do it all well because its your special time with the Lord Jesus.
Isaiah 55:2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.
Romans 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in [the] Holy Spirit.
Food is an important part of life. We all eat to live but some instead even live to eat, which is a wrong way of life. You know that excess eating is related to heart disease and high blood pressure. It can put strain when you walk. Besides over eating can make you look fat. That’s the physical part.
Wrong eating affects emotionally too. Eating certain types of food can be addictive and when such stuff is not there it can make one restless. You peace when dependant on comfort food can become quite shaky.
Wrong eating has had bad ramifications in the Bible too. Esau was a glutton who lost his inheritance to Jacob due trading it for food. The beginning stage of the Israelites complaining against God started when they lusted for Egyptian food instead of trusting God to nourish them. And the biggest one; Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit and by that, death entered the human race.
There’s a trend in people eating a lot of stuff comfort food. Here a person doesn’t eat to meet the needs of body ie for the physical but rather for emotional appeasement. Not just people who are overweight but even normal looking people have been getting into it. Comfort food is used to feel good after a hard days work or after difficult times.
I once was talking to a woman who said that she ate a lot so that she could tackle depression. On talking further I realized she was still in depression, she too understood that her comfort food was harming her. She wanted to leave that habit but found it near impossible to leave it. All that over eating did was make her obese and in a few months she was hospitalized. She not just gorged on food but now got addicted to sleeping pills too. Later by medical treatment she physically recovered and was put on a strict diet. She then by means of prayer and faith in the Lord Jesus decided to face her negative emotions. She took a stand against them instead of hiding her life into excessive eating. She became more confident emotionally and mentally. Also her weight normalized as well.
I’m not saying that emotional eating ie eating comfort foods is the same as gluttony though it possible in some cases that the boundaries between them are blurred. I’ve also noticed that both men and women fall prey to emotional eating. The reasons why people fall into it may differ but everyone needs to be free from it.
To be truly free from such addictions to comfort foods one must be willing to face their weaknesses and troubles with courage. Jesus can give you the courage it takes. One must understand that Jesus is willing to help you if you want to be helped. Take refuge in the Lord Jesus who gives true hope. Asking him in prayer is a sign that you are taking ownership of your situation instead of the situation owning you. Try to change your food habits. Keep fixed times and quantities for eating. Though, not every case may be extreme, you might want to consider medical treatment if you get breathless or have recurring chest pain etc due to overeating. Pray to the Holy Spirit that you take the right decisions with your eating and drinking.