In her book Stories from the Front Line, Jane Rumph tells of the story of a spiritual breakthrough that took place in Sri Lanka, an island country located off the South East coast of India.
Formerly known as Ceylon, the country today has a population of 21 million people.
In August 1972, Evangelist Chris Daniel was holding a week-long, evangelistic rally in Sri Lanka’s coastal city Trincomalee when he experienced a powerful move of God .
Assisting him was Ranjit DeSilva, the President of the Lanka Bible College and 25 students from the college.
In the early stages of the crusade, approximately 8,000 Tamil Hindus were attending the meetings and a few hundred people received Christ each night. During the day, Ranjit routinely prayed and fasted as he knew this spiritual exercise gave him authority over the demonic realm.
However, it was the Wednesday night rally that became the catalyst for the fire that would sweep the city. The meeting roared to life when a woman angrily charged the podium loudly screaming and cursing God and the evangelistic team.
Daniel and Ranjit promptly took charge of the situation and rebuked the demonic spirit manifesting itself in the woman, but the more they did it the louder she got.
The buzz of the large crowd was rapidly replaced by an erie silence as everyone watched the battle unfolding at the front of the stadium.
Then just as suddenly as she had exploded, the woman became quietly subdued and repeatedly muttered the words, “Give me blood or we won’t go.”
Ranjit knew immediately what the woman was asking for. Traditionally, when people suffered in this way they would make animal sacrifices to appease the evil spirit involved which would release the person from their oppression.
The evangelistic team ignored the request and continued to rebuke the evil spirits. They finally gained the higher ground when Daniel received a prophetic revelation of what spirits were involved and when these were specifically rebuked, the woman collapsed on the ground.
The team rushed to her aid, but the woman quietly stood up, straightened herself, and now in her right mind was led aside for counseling.
That night, Ranjit said, 7,000 of the 8,000 or so people attending the rally raised their hands to accept Christ. As word spread on the great victory, the crowds doubled and thousands were saved.
When the team finally pulled out, they felt guilt about leaving such a heavy burden on the church of Trincomalee. Though the church grew substantially after the rally, it was woefully incapable of following up on this massive release of spiritual captives.
Though fasting is not a popular spiritual exercise among believers, I believe it played a key role in what happened in Sri Lanka.
As I mentioned in a previous article, Jesus gave His disciples authority and power over the demonic realm.
9 And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. 2 And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing. (Luke 9:1-2 NASV)
Authority is the right to do something and power is the ability to do it.
Fasting I believe can increase both our authority and power when dealing with the demonic. The prophet Isaiah spoke about the inherent power that comes from fasting, when he said:
“Is this not the fast which I choose,
To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free
And break every yoke? (Isaiah 58:6 NASV)
This verse is full of imagery portraying the release of people from captivity. The Hebrew word for free ‘hopsim’ refers to removing a person from underneath the ownership of someone else.
Notice how it is the fasting that does this. Fasting loosens the bonds of wickedness. It releases the bondage or control that wickedness has over people.
We still have to pray. We still have to declare. But fasting supercharges our prayers.
Setting aside an occasional meal to pray will increase the authority and power you already have in God as a believer. Certainly, there could be medical reasons that prevent a person from fasting food, but we can legitimately fast from other activities as well (1 Corinthians 7:5).
The key to fasting is to make sure you do it in secret (Matthew 6:16-18). In Jesus’s day, certain Jews would make sure the whole world knew they fasted. Jesus said they have already received their reward (a commercial term meaning they have been paid in full) for their fasting.
But if we fast in secret, then God can personally reward us.