Have you ever denied yourself something for a period of time? How did you go with that? Was it hard to do?
Have you ever fasted? Do you think fasting has a place in Christian living?
In Matthew 6 Jesus teaches the people about prayer and fasting. It is interesting that He has grouped the two together. He begins with “When you pray …” and instructs them how to pray. Then Jesus moves onto fasting and begins the same way “when you fast…”
In both occasions Jesus says ‘when’ not ‘if’. It would seem that both are not an optional extra but a regular part of our relationship with God.
Fasting is not something reserved for the early church or those in leadership. It is something all of us can benefit from.
My journey in fasting began in Bible College and it was not at all what I expected! I thought it was going to be this deeply spiritual experience but in reality it started as a battle in my mind. All I seemed to be focused on was not eating! With perseverance I began to be able to focus on God while I was fasting rather than the growling of my stomach!
The simple act of denying ourselves food uncovers the condition of the heart. There is vulnerability and a desire that comes from fasting that is so valuable to our relationship with God.
In the book of John, Jesus refers to Himself as the bread of life and later as being able to give living water. Food and water are some of our basic needs for survival but at the end of the day Jesus is our only way to eternal life. Food and water temporarily sustain us but what Jesus offers us is everlasting.
When we fast we deny ourselves of a basic necessity. Fasting is forgoing a basic necessity for the necessity of God.
We replace our hunger in the natural for hunger in the supernatural. Something is disarmed in the spiritual when we fast in the natural. Jesus spoke to His disciples about some spirits being cast out only by prayer and fasting, Mark 9:29.
If you feel your relationship with God has plateaued or you desire to break through in an area of your life you may like to consider the regular practice of fasting. Fasting is not a manipulation technique to use with God. We are not doing it to get His attention, we do it to turn our attention towards Him. It is also not a bragging tool to impress others as Jesus so clearly states in Matthew 6. Fasting is a sacrificial and humbling act in order to seek His face and hear what He has to say.
Fasting has become a regular part of my life. I do not do it out of a sense of obligation or religiosity. I fast because I want the physical hunger I feel to drive me to hunger more for God. I have also found it has helped me greatly in my prayer life bringing with it clarity and focus.
There is so much more I could say about fasting so this week I wanted to include a printout of guidelines to help you find direction in the area of fasting.
Thank you for the discipline of fasting. Thank you for the opportunity it gives me to seek you in a deeper way and to acknowledge you as the supplier of all my needs.