Spiritual Fasting and the Demolition of Strongholds

For thousands of years religions worldwide have used the discipline of spiritual fasting as a means to pound on the doors of heaven for breakthrough. The concept is that fasting weakens the body and allows the spirit to become more awake and in control-therefore allowing it to receive God’s power and direction.

Flesh Domination

Overall, spiritual fasting centers on putting aside the domination of the flesh in favor of the spirit which, in essence, is the true source of power that can solve the problem or situation being fasted for. Christ himself, the Scriptures say, was filled with the Holy Spirit in the River Jordan and then led to the desert where he fasted for 40 days and came face-to-face with Satan (Matthew Chapters 3 & 4).

Whether you believe this to be literal or not is irrelevant. I respect whatever your belief may be, and wish to use this passage primarily as an example of spiritual fasting and its results.

Bible scholars indicate that Christ had to first confront every human weakness BEFORE being ready for his ministry, before becoming the suitable representative for the entire human race. It could only be done through fasting… imagine that! During the desert fast, Satan offered Christ food, riches and godhood (Matthew 4).

Reality is the Unseen

In every case Christ alluded to the Word of God, indicating with his refusal that there was, in essence, a higher and “more real” reality than the three dimensional cravings and desires we experience as human beings. This required fasting. We are not told of Christ drinking water during his time in the desert. If he did not, then that particular fast was supernatural and way beyond the scope of this discussion.

Moses in the Old Testament (Exodus 34:28) is said to have spent 40 days in Mount Sinai collecting the Ten Commandments, during which time he neither drank nor ate. These are supernatural examples of fasting – both with yielded huge spiritual and physical revelation.

In one case, the Ten Commandments. In the other case, the readiness of Christ to start his earthly ministry.

An “absolute” fast of no water or food, in human terms, can only last for a maximum of three to five days before death results from dehydration. The Apostle Paul of the New Testament converted to Christianity after being struck down from a horse by what the scriptures say was the risen Christ himself (Acts 9:3-22). Paul, the scriptures say, then went with no water or food for three days. When the three days were over, out of his eyes fell what seemed to be scales.


It was after this spiritual fasting experience that he changed from a hater and persecutor of Christians to one of the most powerful apostles in history, almost singlehandedly writing the entire New Testament. We can just speculate exactly that Christ and Paul went through during their fasting. However, in both cases we can see that the end result was transformation and enhanced spiritual revelation.

What are the “scales” in your particular eyes? What are the behavior, mental or physical barriers that stand in your way? From the examples we have discussed, and from the first-hand experience of many others, it can be said that spiritual fasting is indeed mysterious.

Demonic Opposition

In another portion of the Scriptures, this one in the Old Testament, the prophet Daniel fasts for 21 days and does not receive an answer until the last day (Daniel 10). At that point, the scriptures say, the Archangel Michael appeared to Daniel and told him he had been heard since the first day he started to fast. But that demonic powers had stood in the way and a battle had ensued.

I have read commentaries that say this points to the never ending fight between good and evil which translates, in our case, to the struggle between the flesh and the spirit. The Apostle Paul in the New Testament calls himself a “wretched man” (Romans 7) because he says he did what he did not want to do, and often failed to do that which he knew was right.

We are not going to get into any type of theological debate here, but it appears that whatever Paul was battling did not have an evident “human” solution.

Biblical Examples of Fasting

In the Old Testament, the Jews Fasted to seek God’s help in threats or times of war (nation in general), when loved ones were sick (David), in seeking God’s forgiveness for themselves and their nation (Ahab, Daniel), and in seeking God’s protection and His will (Ezra).

Just look up the term, Fasting, in a concordance and observe the abundance of references (Lev 16:29-31; 23:26-32; Num. 29:7; Psalm 69:10; Acts 27:9).

Moses, Elijah, and Jesus all Fasted for 40 days. The Bible records that Spiritual Fasting was not just for the super leaders, rather it was practiced by most, such as during the Judges (Deut 9:15-18; Jug. 20:26; 1 Kings 21:27). (The absolute Fasts of Moses and Elijah had divine assistance Deut. 9:9; 1 Kings 19:8).

Israel Fasted at Bethel, in the war against the Benjamites at Mizpah, and in the Philistine war (Judg. 20:26; 1 Sam 7:6). In the book of Ruth, the Jews Fasted when they heard that Haman had tricked the king into wiping them out (Esther 4:3-16).

David Fasted for Saul and his friend Jonathan, and wept for both his son while he was dying, and for his enemies (2 Sam. 1:12; 2 Sam. 12:16-23; Psalm 35:11-13).

Daniel Fasted for Israel (Dan. 9:3-5). Fasting accompanied prayer, devotion to God (Psalm 35:13), penance (1 Kings 21:27), and seeking God earnestly (2 Sam. 1:12).

The effects of Spiritual Fasting with prayer, when it is real and heartfelt, is that it humbles (Psalm 35:13), disciplines and corrects wrong behaviors and thinking (Psalm 69:10), and God is more likely to respond to our prayers. (Ezra 8:21-23)

In the New Testament, Fasting was practiced when one was faced with temptations (Jesus), in serving God and beginning a new ministry (Antioch), and, when selecting and appointing elders (Matt. 4:1-2).

John the Baptist performed spiritual fasting regularly as a testimony to piety that was real, heartfelt, and pointed to God, not to himself (Matt. 3:11). Paul listed spiritual fasting among other things that proved he was a minister of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1; 2 Cor. 11:23-28). The early church practiced spiritual Fasting as they further sought God’s Will, drawing them deeper into His presence (Acts 13:2-3; 14:21-23).

Physical Impact

Looking at the physical benefits of spiritual fasting, Daniel the prophet at one point dares the King of Babylon to let him eat only water and vegetables for ten days and at the end of that period compare his appearance to that of others who ate meat and other fatty foods (Daniel 1:12). The Scriptures indicate that at the end of the ten days the king was amazed to see that Daniel and his friends looked younger and healthier than all the others.

So notable was the difference that the king actually decided at that point to change the menu altogether and put everyone on water and vegetables. Juice fasting is precisely that – water, fruits and vegetables. In short, there is ample scripture evidence that fasting can place the believe in a position to effect profound changes in his or her life.

What are some of the emotional or behavioral obstacles that limit your intimacy with God? How much better would your communion with Him be if these patters were broken? While in this world we are constantly asked to look outside for material gratification, as a believer one must become convinced that the only true source of liberty and satisfaction in this world lies in intimate daily communion with God.

Fasting can be the hammer at your disposal to tear down the walls of opposition and usher you into a broader spectrum of spiritual experience.

Source by Robert Dave Johnston