14 Days of Prayer
How to Connect with God

Fasting

Fasting As we prepare to commence a fourteen day period of prayer, a few comments about fasting seem appropriate.

In fasting we choose to intentionally go without something for a period of time (usually something pleasurable but not necessarily sinful). It could be food (in a variety of forms) or some other activity (TV, music, etc). Jesus assumed that his disciples would fast (Matthew 6:16-18) as he himself did (Matthew 4:1-2).

Fasting teaches us a lot about ourselves. It quickly reveals how much we are dependent on the pleasure of eating. It also demonstrates how powerful our body is and especially our appetite! Fasting seeks to confirm our dependence on God by finding strength from him alone. After all, it is not food that gives us true life; it is God’s word to us (Matthew 4:4). Life is much more than food (Luke 12:33) and our belly is not our god as it is for others (Phil.3:19. Rom.16:18).

Fasting is one of the more important ways of practising the self-denial required of everyone who would follow Christ. Fasting teaches self-control and therefore trains us in restraint with regard to all our fundamental drives. We learn the value of ‘contentment’ (1 Timothy 6:6). Fasting is not an easy discipline but its practice yields great benefits in our lives, especially when accompanied by time in prayer and other spiritual disciplines.

As we move through this period of fourteen days of focused prayer, why not consider including some form of fasting.

P.S. To read further on this topic, check out Pastor Kong Hee's blog article on the power of fasting, Campus Crusade for Christ's guide to fasting, as well as some medical advice on fasting.

Comments

Thank you. Nice to have your blog back.

What is the biblical basis for fasting being things other than food?

Also in reading Mathew where it talks about not putting fresh oil into old cracked jars, or new wine into old wineskins... isn't Jesus alluding that fasting was practice from the old covenant - not fit for the new?

Hi Peter, Jesus was just saying not to be hypocritcal when you fast. (Matthew 6:16-18 ) He did not say not to fast. Fasting & Prayer place you into the best possible position for a breakthrough from God... The Scriptures teach believers to Fast & Pray. Fasting enables you to experience God in an intimate way by drawing closer to Him in prayer.

First, biblical fasting is going without food. The noun translated "fast" or "a fasting" is 'tsom' in the Hebrew and 'nesteia' in the Greek language. It means the voluntary abstinence from food. The literal Hebrew translation would be "not to eat." The literal Greek means "no food."

Second, biblical fasting is linked with serious seasons of prayer.

Fasting is a form of worship: The Word of God does not specifically command believers to spend time in prayer and fasting. At the same time, prayer and fasting is definitely something we should be doing. It's a personal choice. In the Old Testament the law specifically required prayer and fasting for only one occasion, which was the Day of Atonement... This custom became known as "the day of fasting" (Jeremiah 36:6) or "the Fast" (Acts 27:9). There are many examples of fasting and praying in the New Testament: Anna "worshipped night and day, fasting and praying" at the Temple...the Bible says, "And she was a widow of about 44 years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day." (Luke 2:37). John the Baptist taught his disciples to fast (Mark 2:18). Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights before His temptation by Satan (Matthew 4:2). The church of Antioch fasted (Acts 13:2) and sent Paul and Barnabas off on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:3). Paul and Barnabas spent time in prayer and fasting for the appointment of elders in the churches (Acts 14:23).

"And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink." Acts 9:9, 11

"Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing." Acts 10:30

"As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said ..." Acts 13:2

"And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord ..." Acts 14:23

"... that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer ..." 1 Corinthians 7:5

"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. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so 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).

"Whatsoever things are true... honest... just... pure... lovely... of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Philippians 4:8).

God desires only good for His children. He tells us in His Word, "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21).

Good questions, Peter. Fasting is primarily about abstaining from food (though Paul talks about abstinence for sexual relations too) ... however, I think the principle is there as a discipline in any area of life.

Jesus said that after he had risen, his disciples would fast. Paul did and it has been a practice of Christ-followers throughout history. Just needs to be used appropriately - with right motives and not as a sign of spirituality or as a means to maniupate God.

I totally agree with you Mark. Fasting is seeking God's will to be done by His Holy Spirit directive. Thank you for all your encouraging blogs that inspire us to go deeper with God.

My wife has me on a detox diet at the momment - only raw unprocessed foods, water and friut juice .... and No coffee!!! Had to take the kids to Mc Donalds tonight - oh the temptation! :-)

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