As we continue to think about patterns that connect us to God, let’s think about fasting.
In the middle of the story of Esther, fasting is defined as not eating or drinking for a specific amount of time. (See Esther 4:16) So you may think that the lack of food is the main point. It is not! The point of fasting is seeking GOD!! Isaiah gives God’s promise that if we seek God with the right kind of fast (see Isaiah 58:6-8) when we call, the Lord will answer! (Isaiah 58:9)
Fasting does not earn forgiveness with God. Jesus’s work on the cross fully satisfies the penalty of each one of our sins. Instead “Fasting is a way to demonstrate to God, and to yourself, that you are serious about your relationship with Him. Fasting helps you to gain a new perspective and a renewed reliance upon God.” (See Christian fasting - what does the Bible say?)
How do we avoid food and/or drink for a period of time?
The next blog entry will have more practical steps on taking a fast. But if the Holy Spirit prompts you to fast before then, a good first step is to allow each hunger pang to cause you to check in with God. “Lord, I feel hungry right now, help me know that only You really satisfy.” Perhaps the next stomach growl can remind you to humbly acknowledge your legitimate needs. Does your joy come from God, or food?
Jesus offers this advice:
16“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18) Our fasting is not a show for others, but seeking the Father who sees in secret. We do not use any of the spiritual disciplines to manipulate God into acting. We seek the Giver (God) not a gift (answered prayer through fasting).
Going without food and/or drink for a limited amount of time is a spiritual discipline, explained in the Bible, and useful for seeking God.
Be sure if you have diabetes or other limiting health issues that you ask for medical advice from your doctor before proceeding!
Please comment here about your understanding of fasting in the Bible.