What’s the difference between fasting for your health and fasting as a spiritual discipline? Because just like any diet or fast, after a while, it can feel like something you HAVE to do and not something you WANT to do. What are the benefits and mindset of spiritual fasting that can help you keep this a regular habit?



Today, I want to look at a story in the Bible where the people’s fasting and spiritual lives had become stale and the lessons that we can learn from it to keep fasting fresh and exciting in our lives.




[Zechariah 7:1-3]

On December 7 of the fourth year of King Darius’s reign, another message came to Zechariah from the Lord. The people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regemmelech, along with their attendants, to seek the Lord’s favor. They were to ask this question of the prophets and the priests at the Temple of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies: “Should we continue to mourn and
fast each summer on the anniversary of the Temple’s destruction, as we have done for so many years?”


[Zechariah 7:4-6]

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies sent me this message in reply: “Say to all your people and your priests, ‘During these seventy years of exile, when you fasted and mourned in the summer and in early autumn, was it really for me that you were fasting? And even now in your holy festivals, aren’t you eating and drinking just to please yourselves?


  1. Fasting should glorify God.


Fasting isn’t a tool to get what I want, it doesn’t give you power over God, and it’s not about impressing those around you with how spiritual you are.



[Matthew 23:5]

“Everything they do is for show. On their arms, they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels.”



“Fasting is not meant to show how strong you are, it’s meant to remind you
how weak you are and how much you need God in your life.”


[1 Corinthians 10:31]

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.


2. Fasting should lead to obedience.

[Zechariah 7:8-10]

Then this message came to Zechariah from the Lord: “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other.


4 appetites that every human has…

■ spiritual hunger
■ physical hunger
■ Lust (instant gratification or deep desires)
■ Greed (material, always needing more)

■ He says, “It was through the yielding to temptation that Eve (and
Adam) gave way to satisfying their appetites for all of these hungers.
The temptation of Jesus Christ was similar to that of Adam and Eve’s
temptation and it was these same appetites that Satan chose to
tempt Jesus with.”


[Matthew 4:3]

During that time the devil came and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, tell those stones to become loaves of bread.”


[Matthew 4:4]

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

[1 John 2:16-17]

For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.


3. Fasting should lead to sensitivity to the Spirit.


[Zechariah 7:11-14]

“Your ancestors refused to listen to this message. They stubbornly turned away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing. They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they could not hear the instructions or the messages that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies had sent them by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. That is why the Lord of Heaven’s Armies was so angry with them. “Since they refused to listen when I called to them, I would not listen when they called to me, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. As with a whirlwind, I scattered them among the distant nations, where they lived as strangers. Their land became so desolate that no one even traveled through it. They turned their pleasant land into a desert.”


When we fast, the ultimate goal is not that God gives us something on the
other side.

[John 14:25-27]

I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the advocate as my representative, that is the Holy Spirit, he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.



Application Questions

1. What stood out to you from this message and why?

2. What is one thing God is telling you to START doing because of this message?

3. What is one thing God is telling you to STOP doing because of this message?

4. How will this message change how you act at home, work and in the your relationships?