1. It’s a command
“When you fast…….” Matthew 6:16
Maybe that should be enough.
2. To centre on God
“… a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying.” Luke 2:37
Biblical fasting was always for spiritual purposes, despite the other benefits it may have.
“Ask all the people of the land and the priests, “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?” Zechariah 7:5
Fasting is for Him.
3. To deepen our prayer life
Often great prayers in the Scriptures were accompanied with fasting.
“So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.” Ezra 8:23
“A … more weighty reason for fasting is that it is a help to prayer; particularly when we set aside large portions of time for private prayer. Then especially it is that God is often pleased to lift up the souls of his servants above all the things of earth … in to the third heaven. And it is chiefly as it is a help to prayer that it has so frequently been found a means in the hand of God of confirming and increasing ….seriousness of spirit, earnestness, sensibility, and tenderness of conscience; deadness to the world and consequently the love of God and every holy and heavenly affection.” John Wesley
4. To strip away self – enriching our encounter with God
“When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach.” Psalm 69:10
We cover up what is inside us with food and other good things, but during fasting these things surface.
“If humility is the basic ingredient of true holiness, the soil in which the graces flourish, is it not needful that from time to time we should, like David, humble our souls with fasting? Behind many of our besetting sins and personal failures, behind the many ills that infect our church fellowships and clog the channels of Christian service – the clash of personalities and temperaments, the strife the division – lies that insidious pride of the human heart.” Arthur Wallis
“The first truth that was revealed to me in my early experiences in fasting was my lust for good feelings. It is certainly not a bad thing to feel good, but we must be able to bring that feeling to an easy place where it does not control us. So many attitudes strive to control us: anger, pride, fear, hostility, gluttony, avarice. All of these and more will surface as we fast. It is a blessed release to have these things out in the open so that they can be defeated, and we can live with a single eye toward God.” Richard Foster
5. To remind us that we are sustained by God
“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4
“”My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” John 4:34
Fasting awakens in us our dependence. Our dependence ultimately on God.
“Fasting confirms our utter dependence upon God by finding in him a source of sustenance beyond food. Through it, we learn by experience that God’s word to us is a life substance, that it is food (‘bread’) alone that gives life, but also the words that proceed from the mouth of God. We learn that we too have meat to eat that the world does not know about. Fasting unto our Lord is therefore feasting – feasting on him and on doing his will.” Dallas Willard
6. To increase our ability to hear God
“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said …” Acts 13:2
Jesus set aside 40 days and nights for this exact purpose.
Does it work?
“Our seasons of fasting and prayer at the Tabernacle have been high days indeed; never has Heaven’s gate stood wider; never have our hearts been nearer the central Glory” Charles Spurgeon
“During fasting, thankfulness grows toward him who has given humanity the possibility of fasting. Fasting opens the entrance to a territory you have scarcely glimpsed: the expressions of life and all the events around you and within you get a new illumination, the hastening hours a new, wide eyed and rich purpose. The vigil of groping thought is replaced by a vigil of clarity; troublesome searching is changed to quiet acceptance in gratitude and humility. Seemingly large, perplexing problems open their centers like ripe calyces of flowers: with prayer, fasting and vigil in unison, we may knock the door we wish to see opened.” Tito Colliander
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