“It was then the devil said to him, ‘If you are really the Son of God, command this stone to turn into a loaf of bread for you.” (Luke 4:3)
Why do Christians fast? What makes fasting and prayer so vitally important? Fasting brings many benefits into our lives. Today, let’s talk about one of them: Fasting brings victory over temptation.
Right after Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit led him into the wilderness. He fasted and prayed there for 40 days. When Jesus finished his 40-day fast, the Bible says he was “very hungry.” That sounds like an understatement to me. I’m sure he was completely famished, and also physically weak and fatigued. It was at this precise moment Satan chose to tempt Jesus.
Satan’s logic seems flawless. He must have thought, “Jesus is the Son of God, but he’s just spent 40 days and nights alone in the wilderness without any company or anything to eat. I bet I can tempt him to misuse his power to fill his belly with bread.”
Satan may have had good logic, but he had a poor understanding of the spiritual strength that results from fasting. Jesus said, “I will not,” and he supported his answer by quoting Scripture to Satan.
Satan didn’t give up after his first failure. He tried twice more. Those three temptations tested Jesus’s flesh (“turn these stones into bread”), his ego (“perform an impressive miracle”), and his materialism (“I’ll give you kingdoms and wealth”). Jesus refused all three of Satan’s temptations by using Scripture and by the spiritual strength he received during his fast.
We find ourselves battling against these same three types of temptation today. We’re tempted to give into our body’s appetites and desires. We’re drawn into sin because of our pride, ego, and desire to look important. And we’re still tempted to put money, power, and wealth ahead of God’s kingdom.
Romans 7:19 describes our situation perfectly: “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” We can all identify with this dilemma. We know to do good, we want to do good, but we still sometimes end up doing the very thing we know we should not do. In our own strength, we are no match for temptation.
How do we say, “I will not,” to temptation? We pray, and we fast.
Luke 4:14 says after Jesus fasted, he was “…armed with the Holy Spirit’s power…” Jesus spent the extra time in prayer and submitted his body to the discipline of fasting. As a result, he was armed with the power of the Holy Spirit. He was ready for the fight. Jesus understood the power that results from devoting ourselves to fasting and prayer. He’s our model, our example. Just as fasting brought power to Jesus, fasting gives us the power to shout an emphatic, “I will not!” to temptation. And that’s a really good reason to fast.
Dear God, thank you for this day. Use it for your glory. Lord, direct my heart as I consider fasting. I know there are deeper spiritual levels for me to reach and greater spiritual power for me to access. Help me understand the role of fasting in my journey. Let me honor you in everything I do. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Today’s Reading: Luke 4:1-15