A Note on Fasting
John Calvin (a great man of God who lived 500 years ago) said that fasting has at least three primary objectives:
1. To learn to control demands of the flesh (what we ‘naturally’ want)
2. To prepare ourselves to hear from the Lord
3. To recognize and manifest our dependence upon Him
It is a great opportunity as we start the new year to give ourselves to prayer and fasting. It is an expression of our trust in God, and commitment to put him first in all things.
Jesus showed us an example in his own fasting (Matt 4:1-11). He also expects it of us (Matt 6:16-17). Through the Bible we see examples of the people of God fasting (e.g. Nehemiah 9:1, Esther 4:16). In the book of Acts, we see fasting in Churches at a time of important leadership decision making (Acts 13:2), and at a time of appointing elders (Acts 14:23). In all cases, fasting assumes prayer is happening at the same time (otherwise it would simply be a hunger strike!).
Fasting is generally referred to as going without food for a period of time. It can also include going without anything that (given too much focus) can dull our hunger for God. Even good things can subconsciously numb our focus and passion for Jesus if we place too much priority on them. Fasting can, therefore, include going without things like: technology, internet, TV, caffeine, work, even sex with one’s spouse (see 1 Corinthians 7:5)! Maybe even for the first time, why don’t you take the challenge this week of fasting while you pray!
If you have kids, it is a great time to include them in times of prayer. Share your vision for prayer with them!
Some general comments on fasting food:
• Don’t fast food if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a health condition where it is not medically recommended
• Stay hydrated
• Expect lower energy levels
• Guard against pride
• Avoid legalism. Fasting does not earn you God’s favor or force Him to answer or act.
• Use the time you would have spent consuming food (or whatever else you are fasting from)
with focusing on God in prayer and worship
• Persevere in the pain. It is supposed to be uncomfortable. Comfort is one of those good things that can become a bad thing!
Redeemer: may we fast and pray in faith, and joy, and perseverance these next few days!
God Bless you!