Fasting-Daily Message-August 19, 2003
Dear Daily Message Readers,
Due to time restraints, this devotion will once again be an encore from the Daily Message archives. Regular devotions will start again tomorrow.
READ: Psalm 35:11-18 and Matthew 6:16-18
Psalm 35:13 (NASB) "But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled my soul with fasting, and my prayer kept returning to my bosom."
Fasting. Nowadays this word has become synonymous with those in the world who are looking for a quick way to reduce their overall body weight. Even in the Christian realm, fasting doesn't seem to be a priority of most believers. What's worse, few sermons are preached on fasting, and I have found in writing devotions that even the most seasoned and experienced Christians lack knowledge and understanding of fasting. So let's look at what Jesus said about fasting.
Matthew 6:16 "Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full."
We can clearly see that Jesus expects us to fast because He said "Whenever you fast," not if you fast in two months, when you feel like fasting, or if you are so inclined to fast. Notice also that Jesus set some guidelines for fasting. He warned us not to become legalistic and get caught up in the ritual of it like the Pharisees and hyprocites who fasted for the wrong reasons.
So what then is the right reason to fast? Fasting should always be for spiritual purposes and nothing else. In Acts 13, for instance, the church fasted, worshipped, and prayed--all spiritual principles (13:2-3). That, then, is the key to fasting. It should be a voluntary, private, humble, worshipful, and prayerful time between you and your Heavenly Father (see Daniel 9:3, 1 Samuel 7:6, Nehemiah 9:1, and Jeremiah 36:6 for more reference on the key points of fasting).
With that settled, we must now examine how we should properly fast. It has always been suggested to me by spiritual mentors to start slowly with a food fast. Of course, if you have any medical problems, consult your doctor before fasting. Let me also say that fasting can be the withholding of anything you desire; it certainly does not have be an absence of food. So anyone can fast because we all have something that occupies our time. While anyone can fast, freelance Christian writer David Faulke offers some practical advice to first time and experienced fasters to get the most out of their time:
My most successful fasts have been when I concentrated on one aspect, one desire, one yearning and one longing to be closer to God and to listen to His will for my life. For example, if I am reading the Bible and the Holy Spirit clearly illuminates a passage for me in a way that I can only describe as supernatural, I will fast and meditate on that passage during the entire fast. I have also found great success in concentrating on one prayer during a fast. The prayer is usually a prayer of thanksgiving for what Christ has done for me, and one desire that I pray God will grant to me. Again the key is to focus on Christ during the fast. Good fasts have always been life-changing for me.
Ask God specifically today for what He would have you fast from this week.
Faith Lesson: Fasting produces a deepened realization of Godís presence in our lives.