Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Fasting

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Fasting

Thank you for visiting my page dedicated to the act in the Christian faith called “fasting” my hope and prayer is that this basic information will prompt you to study the scriptures on depth and seek the LORDS heart in what you should do in this matter. Please check this out as well as our blogs and pages as the LORD leads.

The act of fasting

The act of fasting is simply denying yourself food (some deny food and water also) in order to draw closer to God. In many ways it is similar to what is done by some Christian denominations at Lent. However fasting tends to be abstention from food in a sacrificial act. As opposed to lent is seen to be “giving something up for God for 40 days”.

Biblically fasting usually happens alongside prayer and a deep devotion to have time with God, as we will read below, fasting happens as a state of repentance, a state of seeking Gods will or in some cases just being deep in prayer. Fasting is also a great outward sign of obedience.

Fasting is such a culture shock to us in the western world, because of our abundance we don’t usually deny ourselves many things, I like it as it teaches self-control and establish priorities. I do often times wonder how well sustained we would be if we relied on spiritual actions to nourish us as well as food items? Would we be overweight or would we be starving?

Attitude when fasting

Matthew 6:16 (ESV) And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

I love the assumption that Jesus makes here that is missing in modern day Christianity, he assumes that we will fast, he says “when you fast” not “if you fast” or “if you feel like it today, please fast” Jesus states that “when we fast” it should be as natural to us as drinking water, eating or devotional time or prayer.

We have to be natural, not draw attention to the fact that we are fasting, walk about all gloomy with our face all downcast as to attract attention to our sacrifice. When people applaud them or give them kudos for what they have done they have got all that they sought after, in their heart they were looking to please men and not God. We should be doing it to please God not man.

Fasting when seeking spiritual guidance

In the next few verses we will see in the bible where people have had tough choices or really important decisions to make and their first port of call is to pray and fast.

Acts 14:23 (ESV) And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

Appointing church government and leaders, very important task and carries a lot of responsibility. It is only right that they approached with a clear mind and approached it with the blessing of God. It also set a good example to these new elders in what was expected of them as far as praying and fasting.

Acts 13:1 (ESV) Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

Following the call of the Holy Spirit the folks at Antioch had to let go of Paul and Barnabas, but the Holy Spirit comes down on them whilst they were being obedient, they were worshipping and fasting, this was the beginning of Paul going out to do many great things in the name of Christ Jesus.

If we are obedient to the call of God, we will do things through God that are much greater than we could ever have done in our own name. Paul went on to write many of the epistles, be a church planter, reach the non-Jewish world at that time and be an inspiration to many Christians who have gone after him. Let’s look at who he was when Jesus Christ spoke to him on the Damascus road.

Acts 9:1 (ESV) But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4 And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

He had a face to face meeting with Jesus, the thing I notice and love is Saul’s question “who are you LORD?” talk about asking the right question. Jesus gives him instructions to go into the city (At the same time he is showing a vision to the believers who are to receive him) of Damascus and the first thing he did was fast food and water and prepare himself in the LORD.

Exodus 34:28 (ESV) So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

Moses had the ultimate mountain top experience where he was on a mountain 40 days and 40 nights; this makes me think of the ultimate heaven on earth. Being in the presence of God he was sustained by God’s glory, he did not eat or drink. If you are worried about health issues by missing or skipping a meal, God will sustain you in your faith.

Matthew 4:1 (ESV) Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Like Moses, Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness, however Jesus endured temptations from the devil (rather than spending time in the glory of God) he endured similar temptations to what a man would be tempted by in order to come through sinless and then begin his ministry. He declared victory over the devil and everything he could offer, you will notice also that he was close to God in his sacrifice in not eating for those forty days and forty nights.

The heart of fasting

Fasting cannot just be an action, something to “tick the box”, something to boast about on Facebook/Twitter or Instagram. It has to be entered with the correct heart, wanting to sacrifice to become closer to God. To get rid of the stuff that is pulling you away from God, to let go and let God take control, the heart of fasting is a submissive heart.

Jeremiah 14:11 (ESV) The LORD said to me: “Do not pray for the welfare of this people. 12 Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.”

These people were very much going through the religious motions, they were doing the actions but were far from God in their hearts. They were consumed in their own sin, so much so that their offerings were an abomination to the LORD. We have to be careful not to try to treat our relationship as a marriage of convenience because we know that God can supply our needs and offer eternal life but live our lives in a way that is far from him.

Joel 2:12-15 (ESV) “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. 14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God? 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly;

God is a God of second (and many more) chances, he desires obedience, for us to return to him with all of our hearts, he desires that we want to be close to him with fasting, sacrifice, contrite hearts and mourning for how we have grieved him. He is slow to anger and quick to love, it is never too late until you draw your last breath. Joel advised to call a fast, do it in reverence and solemnness.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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