67. Why does God / Allâh want us to fast?

“And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and dishevelled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you”(Matthew 6:16–18). We conclude from this passage that fasting is between God and the person fasting. You do not fast to impress anyone. The act of fasting requires self-denial and it helps us subdue fleshly desires and discipline our bodies. Fasting is also a way we can show God that we are serious about a breakthrough in the matter we are fasting about. In Matt 17 v 21 Jesus taught His disciples that there were certain demonic powers that would not be dislodged and dethroned without fasting. An elderly prophetess, Anna, spent her days in the Temple worshipping, praying and often fasting. She had the privilege of prophesying that Mary’s child was the Messiah and Saviour Israel had been hoping for. Read about this in Luke 2 v 36 – 40. Increased spiritual power and greater sensitivity to the Holy Spirit is associated with fasting. Therefore, everyone who is a Christian can regularly fast, as they seek greater power from God. Some people increase their spiritual hunger and discipline their bodies by fasting regularly. In Acts 13 verses 2 – 3 we read about the leaders of the Church at Antioch,“One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.” It seems that God requires fasting at the time we hold presbyteries for the setting apart of leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ. This concept of fasting at times of presbytery or appointing leaders was also recorded in Acts 14 verse 23.

Muslims believe that fasting during Ramadan is obedience to Allâh. These are some of the Qur’anic references to fasting and Ramadan:

‘O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may learn self-restraint. Fasting for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the prescribed number should be made up from days later. For those who can do it fast with hardship is a ransom. The feeding of one that is indigent (in old age), but he that will give more of his own free will, It is better for him and it is better for you that you fast if only you knew.’ (Surah 2 Al Baqarah ayat 183-184)

‘Allâh intends every facility for you; He does not want you to be put to difficulties, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the prescribed number (of days), and glorify Him for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him” (Surah 2 Al Baqarah ayah 185).’ See questions 96 and 97 for more about Ramadan the month of fasting.