In Mark chapter 9, Christ’s disciples were surprised (and probably publicly shamed) by their inability to cast out a demon. They then privately asked Jesus to explain their problem. He replied, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29). Evidently, fasting is a spiritual exercise that results in exceptional outcomes.

Remember, when the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness after His baptism, as He prepared for the great temptations of Satan, He fasted (See Matthew 4:1-2). I do not believe fasting was a once in a lifetime strategy with Christ. How is it with you? Have you ever fasted, or considered fasting? If you are struggling to overcome any temptation, I encourage you to incorporate fasting into your Christian experience.

Appetite and Fasting

“The controlling power of appetite will prove the ruin of thousands, when, if they had conquered on this point, they would have had moral power to gain the victory over every other temptation of Satan. But those who are slaves to appetite will fail in perfecting Christian character.”1 Through the experience of controlling the drive of this lower power (appetite), God can deliver you from all other temptations.

Fasting, to whatever extent you engage in the practice, simultaneously demands and develops three important character traits: self-denial, patience and endurance. And that’s why fasting is useful within the spiritual arena (the physical benefits related to health will not be covered here). Self-denial is a very basic Christian teaching that Jesus enjoins at the front end of the Christian walk (See Luke 9:23-27,46-48). As for patience and endurance, let us especially note the end time context surrounding these traits of character when mentioned in scripture.

  • “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12).
  • “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain” (James 5:7).
  • “…He that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22).
  • “…Therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).

That last verse precedes Paul’s discussion of the perilous times of the last days. What will it take to get ready for these times, a time when we expect Satan to use his most fierce temptations? “And as we near the close of time, Satan’s temptation to indulge appetite will be more powerful and more difficult to overcome.”2

“The season of distress and anguish before us will require a faith that can endure weariness, delay, and hunger — a faith that will not faint, though severely tried…”3

Call to Action

Fasting is a discipline. It is the means through which we cooperate with God as He Himself develops in us a degree of patient endurance that will be sufficient for the extreme challenges that lay directly ahead of us during the end of time. If you truly believe you are about to enter a time of trouble such as has never been in the history of the world, it is not unreasonable to think that you are going to need a life experience which you do not yet possess, and which most people will lack the initiative to gain. You don’t have to be one of them. You can be confident that He who has begun His good work in you will complete it (Philippians 1:6).

In Part 2 of this series which will be published next week, we will examine some practical aspects of fasting, and introduce you to some ways that you can use to start this discipline in your own life.

All scripture taken from the King James Version

  1. Ellen G. White, Counsels on Health (Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1923), 574.
  2. Ellen G. White, Counsels on Health (Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1923), 574.
  3. Ellen G. White, Last Day Events (Boise, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1992), 254.

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