Is God Calling You to Enter a Spiritual Fast?

By Gary Rohrmayer

This week there was a shakeup at Halas Hall that reverberated throughout the Chicagoland area. The real disturbance was not around the expected dismissals of the Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman and their General Manager Phil Emery, but when Bears chairman George McCaskey shared his mother’s feelings about the team’s performance this year.  The 91 year old team owner Virginia McCaskey (the daughter of the late George Halas, founder of the franchise) thoughts shook up the airwaves in reflecting the intense emotional consternation of every Chicago Bears fan.

After using some very descriptive language of his mother’s feelings, Mr. McCaskey said, “She’s been on this earth for eight of the Bears’ nine championships, and she wants more. She feels that it’s been too long since the last one, and that dissatisfaction is shared by her children, her grandchildren and her great grandchildren.” He concluded by saying, “She’s fed up with mediocrity. She feels that she and Bears fans everywhere deserve better.”

This emotion of being fed up!  This feeling of being sick to your stomach with lack luster results is the emotion behind the spiritual discipline of fasting.  The sentiment inside all of us which causes us to desire something much better than what we are presently experiencing. The intense feeling of not being happy with the current state of things, whether spiritual, physical, relational, or missional, is the emotion that drives a person to voluntarily enter into a spiritual fast.

The bible is full of examples of spiritual leaders who were just fed up and entered into a spiritual fast to petition God for a spiritual breakthrough.

Moses was fed up with spiritual wanderings of God’s people which led him to fast for 40 days and 40 nights. It was after this fast that he received the Ten Commandments. 

“Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant--the Ten Commandments.”  Exodus 34:28 

King Jehoshaphat being both desperate and fed up with living under the threat of the Assyrian army, and called for a national fast for a miraculous victory against his enemies and received it.

Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah.” 2 Chronicles 20:2-3

David was fed up with his prayers returning to him unanswered. He entered a fast to keep himself humbly dependent on God. 

“Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting.
When my prayers returned to me unanswered.”
Psalm 35:13

Leaders of Israel were fed up with the moral and spiritual condition of God’s people and they called for a national fast of repentance. 

“Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly.” Joel 2:15 

Ezra was fed up of trusting the kings of this world for their protection and called God’s people to enter into a fast for traveling mercies as they returned from exile and received an answer to their prayers. 

There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, ‘The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.’ So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.”  Ezra 8:21-23 

So when should we empower our prayers with fasting? 

First, fasting is a regular spiritual discipline for every serious follower of Jesus, many early Christians fasted two days per week every week. 

Second, lengthy fasts of 3, 7, 21 and 40 days should be entered into as a response to the Holy Spirit’s convicting work that is telling us something is not right in our life or ministry whether it is spiritually, relationally, financially, missionally, or corporately as a church.  

Third, emergency fasts should be called when we get so fed up with the obstacles that are hindering us from accomplishing God’s purposes and becoming all that God desires us to be as his children. 

Is God calling you to enter a spiritual fasting? 

Additional Reading:


Church Planting Resources, Fasting, Gary Rohrmayer