Last Sunday was Fasting 101. We said that fasting is “abstaining from food (and/or other things) for a measured period of time in order to heighten my hunger for the things of God.”
It’s getting off the table all of the (lesser) stuff that fills my appetites, and focusing solely on my relationship with Jesus Christ.
So what’s this “and/or other things”? For some, traditional fasting may not be physically possible (diabetics, for example). Maybe you need to fast from video games, or Facebook, or even television. The point is this: instead of feeding on the lesser things, I am devoting that time, energy, and appetite capacity to prayer and the Word - focusing on my walk with Jesus.
Try fasting once a day for a few days (skip lunch, for example, to pray instead). Or try a straight 1 day fast, or even work up to a 2-3 day fast if this is new to you. Keep it between you and the Lord. See how differently you focus on Christ during the fast, and afterwards as a result.
When is a good occasion to fast? James MacDonald points out how Isaiah mentions some great reasons and seasons to fast in Isaiah 58. I will go through just 5 of these here to hopefully encourage you to take a season of fasting:
When is a good occasion to fast?
Isaiah 58:6 "Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
1) When you are stuck in a sinful pattern or feel a heavy spiritual burden. Stuck in a rut? Time to fast and let God get you on track.
Isaiah 58:7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
2) When you want to give. Are you giving the way you want to? If not, fasting can help get you on track.
Isaiah 58:8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
3) When you need encouragement. Who doesn’t need that reminder of God’s love, presence, and provision? Fasting to focus on our identity in Christ will bring great encouragement.
Isaiah 58:9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, 'Here I am.' If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
4) When you need an answer to prayer. Fasting and prayer go together like peanut butter and chocolate, like Batman and Robin, like Hydrogen and Oxygen (I think those 3 analogies will cover every demographic). We pray, but do we buckle down and focus on intense, passionate prayer? Fasting helps us do that.
Isaiah 58:10-11 - if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
5) When you need direction. At a crossroads? Need some guidance? Fasting has a way of helping us really listen to the promptings of the Lord.
Let’s call people back to this incredible gift the Lord has given His people!
p.s. - Let's hunger for the things of God.