Truth About Fasting
Fasting…what? This is not a common practice in today’s culture unless a medical procedure is looming near. Seth shows us the truth from scripture about fasting. Eat it up!
Isaiah 58:6: “Is not this the fast that I choose: to lose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke?”
Fasting. Just typing the word makes me hungry. When I read scripture I am struck by the amount of fasting in it, and yet the lack of fasting I see in my life. Esther fasted before she spoke to the king (Esther 4:16). The church of Antioch fasted for Paul and Barnabas before their missionary journey (Acts 13:3). David fasted for his sick child (2 Samuel 12:16). And Jesus fasted before His temptation in the desert (Matthew 4:2).
Why does fasting occur all throughout scripture, yet it seems so nonexistent in our culture today? Fasting requires us to give up something good and legitimate for the sake of drawing close to God. Sometimes it is a way to pursue God’s wisdom or guidance, or it may be a reaction to a moving event or experience. Fasting helps remind us of our need for God by putting us in a state of dependence on Him, not on the materials (most often food) of this world. The Lord rebukes self-righteous fasting and calls for true fasting (Matthew 6:16-18 and Isaiah 58).
So then how should fasting look?
- Try it. If you find something consuming your thoughts or heart, maybe try fasting over it. When the hunger pains or thoughts of your fasting come to you, take time to pray about what you are fasting for, recognizing all along that God is the provider of every good gift (James 1:17). Fasting does not equal answered prayers (see 2 Samuel 12), but it can allow the opportunity to align our hearts and minds with the Lord.
- Draw near to God. Fast in a way that does not draw attention to yourself (Matthew 6:16-18). Fasting is between you and the Lord. God’s frustration is when people try to use fasting as a way to show their spirituality or righteous living. Remember fasting is to remind one of his or her need, not to make him or her feel “good enough” or “better than” to earn God’s favor.
- Take advantage of fasting time. If fasting from food, don’t just skip a meal and keep working, Take a lunch break and pray instead. If fasting from something else, take the time you would be doing that activity and consciously seek the Lord.
Fasting is a great discipline to help us remember what Jesus reminded Satan, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
What do you think the benefits of fasting are? What are some reasons worth fasting for?