“Fasting is a little scary,” remarked a friend during our recent 21 Day Fast for Pastor Saeed. She’s right. Whether it’s food, a favorite treat, social media or shopping, giving up something we depend upon leaves us longing. Empty. Thirsty.
Maybe that’s why fasting is so powerful. I’m forced to switch my lifeline from food (or whatever) to God Himself. I find myself hungrier for His Word and more receptive to His voice. Even Jesus chose to fast before in His duel in the desert with the devil. He had just been baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit. Afterwards, God spoke from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” What an amazing spiritual mountaintop! But notice what happened next:
Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry (Matthew 4:1,2 NLT). It was the Holy Spirit himself who led Jesus into the desert. A place of vulnerability and isolation. On top of that, Jesus fasted for forty days and nights! Not exactly the breakfast of champions. So why would He physically weaken Himself in preparation for the fight of His life?
Let’s read further to find our answer: The tempter came to Him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread” (Matthew 4:3, 4 NIV). The devil’s first of three temptations hit Jesus right in the gut, so to speak. He tempts him to turn stones into bread. What could be wrong with that? Jesus could simply try out His divine power. Turning stones into bread wouldn’t cost Him any money or cause a scandal. And hunger after forty days with no food seems like a legitimate need.
But Jesus, weak in body yet mighty Spirit, knew the fight with the devil was not over. His counterattack came straight from the Bible, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’.” With each successive temptation, Jesus fired back at the devil with Scripture until the evil one finally slinked away in defeat.
For forty days, Jesus had prepared for this time of testing by fasting, praying, pouring over God’s Word. He was armed and ready. Power to contend with the devil didn’t come from His human strength or logic, but from the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.
Dear friends, I wonder if we hunger for the true bread of the Spirit? We nourish our bodies with food. We keep our cars fueled up. We recharge our smart phones and laptops. But are we humble enough to admit that we can’t win our spiritual battles without God’s Word? Jesus showed us how. We don’t live by the “bread” of this world alone, but by every Word from the mouth of God. That’s how we stay armed and dangerous to the devil.