The Purpose of Fasting: Matthew 4:2
“2) And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.” Matthew‬ ‭4:2
This verse describes the launching pad of the public ministry of Jesus Christ. The first thing Jesus did after His baptism was fast and pray for forty days and nights. His public ministry started with prayer, was sustained by prayer and ended with prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The Holy Spirit led Him to first and foremost commune with His Father in prayer through a prolonged time of fasting. I dare say that prayer and fasting became the fuel that launched and powered His ministry.
This begs the question; “Why did the Son of God need to undergird His life and ministry with persistent prayer?” Didn’t He automatically walk in Divine power and enablement?
Awe; we now discover the mistaken fallacy about prayer and fasting. These callings are not about gaining more power, they are about deep intimacy with God. The focus is not about God doing more “through” you, the goal is God doing more “in” you. The main calling of the Christian life is not doing the Great Commission, rather it is about entering into Great Communion with God. The first is the outgrowth of the second.
This is the emphasis of Isaiah 58:5-12 which is the greatest explanation of the call to fasting found in the Bible. Fasting is not merely about going without food, it is about seeking and connecting with God. It is about removing the blinders that hinder the glow of God in and through our lives. It is about turning on the light of the Spirit in our life and our geographical region.
It does surprising that Moses, Daniel, Jesus, the early church and Paul all focused on prolonged times of prayer and fasting. God used each of them to turn on the light of revival and awakening. The same can happen today!
Let me close with a comment about the physical component of fasting. Note that after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, Jesus then became hungry. Jesus was on a genuine fast during which He consumed only water.
Around day three of a this kind of fasting, hunger cravings subside. The body switches to burn stored fat for energy. The immune system also kicks into high gear and removes toxins and damaged cells. New stem cells are produced in abundance they go to work renewing and healing the body. The health benefits of fasting have become a craze in modern medicine.
When actual hunger cravings return, the body has burned its reserve and needs food and nourishment again. If good nutrition is not added at this time, the body will start burning muscle and organ mass and the ravages of starvation will begin. Depending on fat reserve, most people are capable of fasting for extended periods of time.
If you are considering an extended fast, take time and study the subject. There is ample information available from good sources online. Beware lest you get caught up on the physical benefits of fasting to the point of missing the more important spiritual calling of communion and intimacy with God.
I beg you not to skip over Matthew 4:2 in your Bible reading. Many great spiritual insights come in small packages. Such is the case with this verse. It contains spiritual dynamite.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global