By Pastor Kong Hee, founder of the City Harvest Church, Singapore.
As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away. Acts 13:2-3
The leaders in the Antioch church were ministering to the Lord with prayer and fasting. Fasting is often a neglected spiritual activity among believers. Yet it is referred to all throughout the pages of the Bible. Fasting is defined as the voluntary abstaining from food for spiritual purposes. It is often done with prayer because fasting intensifies your praying.
The most natural thing for us to do every day is to eat. When we give up eating, we deliberately turn away from the natural by turning to God and to the supernatural. By fasting, we are really renouncing the natural to invoke the spiritual. All throughout the Scriptures, we see how God attached tremendous importance to fasting as the appointed way for His people to humble themselves before Him. (Ezra 8:21-23).
Before Jesus entered His public ministry, He had to pass through two critical experiences: (1) He had to be filled with the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, and (2) He had to fast for 40 days in the desert (Luke 4:1-2). Even Jesus had to humble Himself and focus on the spiritual! The result of His fasting was the great personal victory He had over Satan’s temptations. Besides that, His fasting released the power of the Spirit to flow without any hindrances through His life and ministry. If we want to follow in the other great works that Jesus did, then it seems logical that we must also begin where He began - by fasting!
In the Early Church, prayer and fasting were the standard ways by which the New Testament leadership operated. In the Antioch church, the sending of Barnabas and Saul for missions was entirely a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:4). But it was only through fasting that the leaders were able to move from the realm of the natural into the supernatural.
Finally, fasting is God’s appointed way to bring your carnal nature into subjection. Your body makes a wonderful servant but a terrible master. If you really want to succeed in the Christian life, you must ensure that your body does not dictate you or control you (1 Cor. 9:27).
Rather, you are controlled by God’s destiny and purpose for your life. By regular fasting, you serve notice to your body and your carnal nature: “Body, you don’t control me. I’m not subject to you. You’re my servant. You’ll obey what the Holy Spirit in me declares I have to do!” (http://www.konghee.com/www/2010/03/fasting/)