A Few Words About Fasting
We are into the third week of our 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting emphasis, and today is the third church-wide call to fast. Yes, we’re asking all who can to fast each Monday during the 40 days, then break the fast with prayer just before your evening meal.
But why? What does fasting do spiritually?
Generally speaking, fasting is the spiritual discipline that forces us to face the reality that there is something more important and essential to our life than even food. It’s God and his kingdom, and when we fast, we grow into the realization that, though the physical world is pertinent, God’s spiritual kingdom is preeminent.
In regards to our current 40 Days theme, especially our church-wide call to fast on Mondays, we are agreeing together that what needs to be paramount to us is the spiritual harvest in front of us, not our physical food. When we choose to deny our appetite and, instead, engage in prayer for those who do not yet know Jesus, it is one way God recalibrates our spiritual appetites and aligns them with his desires. Fasting is, essentially, a means of sanctification God uses to conform us to the image of his Son.
Specifically, there are at least three things fasting communicates very precisely. These have encouraged me over the years to continue in this discipline and I pray they will strengthen your resolve as well.
1. We want to be obedient and follow the model of Jesus and the early church.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:16, “When you fast…” He did not say “if” you fast. Additionally, we see examples of fasting for direction in the early church, such as in Acts 13 and the sending of Saul and Barnabas. (13:2–3). Fasting is a specific posture that indicates there’s nothing we wouldn’t give up for the sake of our Savior, not even food. In other words, it accelerates obedience.
2. We want to draw closer to Jesus and his power over sin.
Jesus intriguingly said one time that there was a type of enemy only battled through prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29). This text seems to indicate that fasting brings us into a closer relationship with Jesus and his power in certain types of spiritual warfare than perhaps is normally experienced.
3. We want to stir ourselves and the body of Christ towards repentance.
Nehemiah fasted and prayed after he heard of the demise of the city of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:3–4). Often fasting is a way to indicate deep sorrow, and in those times it can be used by God to heighten our awareness of sin(s) that break spiritual fellowship and bring physical consequences.
Together, let’s pray and fast today.