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?
- When we are caught in a sinful pattern. v6
- When we have a heavy burden. v6
- When we are oppressed by the enemy. v6
- When we want to give to someone else. v7
- When we need to be encouraged. v8
- When we are seeking answer to prayer. v9
- When we need to examine ourselves. v9
- When we need direction. v11
- 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