Why fast? What IS fasting? Is it REALLY necessary? Do we actually gain anything from it? What if we do not receive an answer for our prayers?
Has anyone ever asked you those questions? I know I have. So I recently read up a bit on various “fasters” throughout history. What I found sparked my interest. Still, it doesn’t surprise me:
- Matthew Henry, the well-known Bible scholar and commentator, said it was lamentable that fasting is “generally” neglected by Christians.
- Jerome, Clement of Rome… all the ancients… fasted no less than twice a week.
- Jonathan Edwards fasted 22 hours prior to the most famous sermon he ever preached.
But one of the most interesting things I read about the topic comes from Luke chapter four… in the first verse, it says this:
And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,Luke 4:1
Then down in verse 14, we read this:
And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.Luke 4:14
There’s something about fasting… about obedience (which is better than sacrifice – 1 Samuel 15:22)… about denying the flesh… that really gives Jesus something to work with.
Jesus teaches on fasting, along with other things, in Matthew 6 as well… along with giving and praying. These three things, He speaks of saying “WHEN you… (fast, pray, give, etc.)” Not IF… but WHEN.
It’s clear that Jesus fasted as an example for us to follow. He spoke further on the matter, telling us WHEN we did it… don’t make your facial expression sad or mournful… instead, anoint your head, wash your face, and fast in secret.
When Paul goes on to talk about fasting in 2 Corinthians chapter six, he speaks of “watchings” and “fastings”, among other things, that would approve them ministers of God.
“Watchings” meant that they went without sleep (ever had a sleepless night where all you could do was pray?). “Fastings” meant that they went without food. Paul used these two practices, in particular, to come closer to God in his ministry, knowing that to deny the flesh was to allow the spirit to grow.
Whatever your purpose for fasting, remember that God will meet you there! Jentezen Franklin said, “Fasting is not just a physical discipline, it can be a spiritual feast.”
So let’s feast!