Zechariah 7:4-5, “4 Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying, 5 Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me—for Me?
By definition, fast means to abstain from food for a period of time. This is a discipline practiced by believers, not as an end in itself (severity), but as a sign of repentance in seeking God. In the Scriptures, people fasted when under chastening, under judgment, to seek God’s will, for victory over the enemy, for deliverance, for purity before the Lord, as part of sorrow for sin. Fasting is connected in scripture with times of distress example, 2Chronicles 20:3-4, “And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 So Judah gathered together to ask help from the LORD; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD”. While all these is true, I believe they are benefits to fasting. There is a greater reason we should fast as I will share.
First of all, fasting is not hunger strike and cannot be used to manipulate God to get us what we want, its greatest reason in my judgment is for us to demonstrate to God how worthy He is, that He is more important than anything else. Fasting is a means toward spiritual focus by concentrating on God rather than on food and other personal needs. The bible says, “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”. Job 23:12, “I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food”. This again is not a way to show how worthy man is but rather how worthy God is.
Fasting is never commanded, it is going an extra mile. It is giving the Lord what is right rather than what is left. We are commanded to “pray without ceasing,” “praying always, with all prayer and supplication,”, “watch and pray,”. Think of the time the Jews came to Jesus and asked, “Your disciples don’t fast! Why?” Jesus had an interesting response, He said, “When the bridegroom is with you, you don’t fast”. In other words, this was not a time to fast, it was a time of joy. Jesus was telling us that fasting is a unique experience that is identified with times of grief, and sorrow, and pain, and isolation, and loneliness, and fear–those kinds of times that would not exist while we were walking around in the presence of Jesus Christ. For this reason, fasting is vital, it helps you build spiritual muscles. It teaches you spiritual discipline. Fasting lets you know what God is able to do; if He gives you grace to fast, He can also make ways. Fasting help us remember the spiritual resources of God that sustained you when you did not have much, and the remembrance should drive you and I to focus more on the Lord. Fasting can also help us remember and identify with those around us who are poor and hungry. All these points us back to God who is worthy of all the attention.
Jesus in teaching about fast in Matthew 6:16-18, said, “16 Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly”. Jesus made sure His hearers understood that fasting was not to be made a subject of display but a delight to God.
“Since it is not a command, we can learn from others who fasted. Let me highlight at least 3. 1. A Regular Fast (Jesus Fast 40 days) – Traditionally, a regular fast means refraining from eating all food. Most people still drink water or juice during a regular fast. When Jesus fasted in the desert, the Bible says, “After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” This verse does not mention Jesus being thirsty. 2. A Partial Fast (Daniel Fast, 21 days)- This type of fast generally refers to omitting a specific meal from your diet or refraining from certain types of foods. Daniel 10:2-3 says, “At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.” In Daniel 1:12, they chose to restrict their diet to vegetables and water:, they said, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.” 3. A Full Fast (Paul, Esther, David fast 3 days), these fasts are complete – no food and no drink. Acts 9:9 describes when Paul went on a full fast for three days following his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus: “For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.” Esther also called for this type of fast in Esther 4:15-16: “Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish‘” ” It is recommended that this type of fast be done with extreme caution and not for extended periods of time”
So when we fast, we fast for God. We demonstrate how worthy He is over everything else including our necessities, food in particular. The rest are benefits to fasting, icing on the cake. May the Lord help us revisit why we fast and set our priorities straight with Him as the center. Blessings Ev
- Lord Teach Us to Pray 1of10: Our Father…Hallowed Be Your Name, by Evans Olang (magnifyhisword.wordpress.com)
- Strike Again, Evans Olang (magnifyhisword.wordpress.com)
- Take It To The Lord In Prayer, Evans Olang (magnifyhisword.wordpress.com)
This entry was posted in All Devos and tagged Book of Matthew, Book of Zechariah, Daniel, Daniel Fast, Effective Praying, effective praying, Esther, fasting, God, He is worthy, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jesus fast, Judah, Lord, Paul, Prayer Power.