Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.
And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE, BUT BY EVERY WORD OF GOD.’ ” (Luke 4:3,4)
It is commonly agreed that the true meaning of the word “fasting” is to deny oneself food for a season of time. Some argue on the basis of Isaiah 58 that fasting is not about this at all, but rather ONLY about certain issues of relational justice. However, whether you call what Jesus did here fasting or not, you have to admit that Jesus did go for a long time without food. And since Jesus is a model for us, its something we should be open to, at least.
Why did Jesus go without food for so long?
Jesus did this for two main primary reasons. One was that God’s Spirit led him into the wilderness. In the wilderness there was no food to eat. Jesus followed the Spirit of God into a place where there was no natural provision. To be like Jesus, we also must be willing to do this if the Spirit of God so leads. I can assure you that every spirit-filled Christian is led into some kind of wilderness at some time in his or her life.
Even though there was no natural provision in the widerness, Jesus could have created the provision simply by commanding it to be so. I am sure Jesus could have done this, and the devil invited him to do it. Perhaps the devil would like to teach us ways to have our provision met based on spiritual techniques or whatever, also. There are plenty of people out there teaching us how to visualise the success we desire and speak things into being, and they are not all Christians by any means. But even if they are Christians, if God has not commanded such activity we had better wait and trust Him.
That is why Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”. (Luke 4:4).
Obedience to the living Word of God was the guiding principle of Jesus’ life. Of all the many things He could do as the Son of God, he chose only to obey the Father, to speak and do only what came from God’s initiative.
Our motivation for going without food therefore must be that God has led us to do it, to seek Him, or for seeking God’s Word in our lives. Other benefits of fasting are secondary, and they are only sure to flow if it is God who is leading us.
If you don’t know what God’s “rhema” (quickened, spoken) word is for your life, then fasting is an excellent option. If your life is still spent in part on worldly entertainment, I challenge you to limit yourself to those things which God is truly leading you to do. It may well be that God is leading you to fast so that you can receive God’s specific instructions for your life, both in the short and long term.
Jesus was only able to enter his ministry after he overcame the devil’s temptations to go his own way. And Jesus had to overcome these temptations in the midst of a long fast and a wilderness experience. That is a picture of the way it will also work in the life of a true spirit-filled Christian. May God help us to never deviate from the principles of obedience to God’s Word and waiting upon the leading of the Holy Spirit.