Think Fast

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.

Some Words on Fasting...

This Friday, we will be meeting for prayer at 7:00 at Covenant Community Church. I encourage you not only to start praying now, but to fast and pray. Fasting must be a part of our spiritual walk!

What is fasting?

Fasting is abstaining from food (or something else*, in some cases), for measured periods of time in order to heighten my hunger for the things of God.

*Note: If you have a medical condition, you can fast from something other than food!

There are different types. There is a normal fast (abstaining from food for spiritual purposes), partial fast (only abstaining from certain things, see Daniel 10:3), absolute fast (abstaining from food and water! See Acts 9:9), and we even see at times in Scripture the corporate fast (see Joel 2:15).

What’s the deal with fasting?

As human beings, we naturally hunger for things. We look for things to satisfy us. But because of the curse of sin on the world, we have a tendency to hunger for things that do not satisfy. We think that we can be fulfilled by things of the earth. We fill ourselves with food, entertainment, work, TV, and an endless list of other distractions. But the real hunger is never satisfied, because only God can do that! We know the fulfillment that comes from walking in the Spirit, serving Christ where He has called me, and giving what He has called me to give.

So fasting is the way to break away from the danger of being enslaved to food, and focusing our attention instead to our real hunger - a hunger for God. We are freed to focus on the hunger for what we really want, what we really need!

In Matthew 6:16-18, Jesus said: 

"And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Note a few things Jesus taught concerning fasting:

a) Fasting is expected. Jesus said “when you fast” - NOT “if you fast”. Our Lord spoke of fasting as if He was just expecting it to be a part of our walk with Him!

b) Fasting is between you and God, not between you and others. Some people were turning fasting into a show. “Look at how spiritual I am. I have been fasting for so long… I am so weak… so faint… I am so amazingly spiritual…” And if you do that, and someone does give you a pat on the back - enjoy that pat. Because that is all you are getting. You have “received <your> reward”. Keep it between you and God. It is possible for you to fast for all the wrong reasons!

c) Fasting has benefits. I am not talking about health benefits. Jesus said that God sees and God rewards. What are the benefits of fasting?

---In Isaiah 58:6-11, God gives reasons to fast, showing the benefits of it! Grab your Bible and look through these verses.

When should we fast?

  1. When we are caught in a sinful pattern. v6
  2. When we have a heavy burden. v6
  3. When we are oppressed by the enemy. v6
  4. When we want to give to someone else. v7
  5. When we need to be encouraged. v8
  6. When we are seeking answer to prayer. v9
  7. When we need to examine ourselves. v9
  8. When we need direction. v11
  9. When we feel the need for restoration / revival. v11

Fasting has a way of refocusing our spirit, our appetite, our very purpose on God Himself. Especially during the seasons of our lives when it seems we need God to show up in a special way.

Check out the following website that was passed on to me, and join me this week in fasting and prayer!

p.s. - too hungry for junk too often