In our society we have 3 basic meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner. At most, we take these meals a few hours apart. When we mix in brunch, afternoon tea and crumpets, and an "after-dinner Sonic run," our dependence on food becomes pretty apparent.
However, our first meal-breakfast-literally means "breaking a fast." Eight straight hours without food, now that's a fast! People's biggest misconceptions about food have to do with how much they need and how often their bodies need it.
When we think of fasting, the story of Jesus going 40 days without food comes to mind. However, there are numerous fasts recorded in the Bible, so it's clear that God desires for us to fast in order to seek Him wholeheartedly.
When speaking about fasting in Matthew 6, Jesus doesn't say If you fast, or For those who decide to fast, but WHEN you fast... clearly meaning it's something He expects from us.
The Benefits of Fasting
In-N-Out doesn't even make double-doubles like this
Nothing we do will please the Lord more than obeying His Word. We are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to Him. Humbling ourselves by fasting and denying the flesh-one of the most carnal desires-will heighten our spiritual awareness and bring us closer to God. We see in James 4:7, Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
The longer and more devoted our fast, the easier it will be to say no to sin and rid ourselves of unhealthy habits and addictions.
Galatians 5:17 says, For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit. This is good news when fasting because if we are yielding to the Spirit, the flesh has no power since we know the Spirit and the flesh are contrary to one another.
With all these great spiritual benefits, I know what you're saying. "I can't wait to fast...but, what about the physical effects fasting will have?" More good news: Doctors have recently acknowledged the amazing health benefits and the natural internal cleansing of the body that occur as a result of fasting.
Did you ever wonder why you lose your appetite when you get sick? God created our bodies to cleanse and purify themselves when we go without food or restrict ourselves to a diet of healthy fruits and vegetables.
Fasting = Spiritual and physical benefits. Coincidence? I think not.
Though fasting can mean abstaining from anything, or a period of self-denial, it is most commonly known as abstaining from food. The Greek word used in the Bible for fasting is "nesteia" which literally means, "not to eat." (Who would have guessed?)
Moses was the first recorded person to fast in the Bible. He went 40 days without food or water (and actually did this twice in a row!). Elijah and Jesus also fasted for 40 days. As we know from the Word, all three of these men were filled with the Spirit of God and walked with Him.
There is an extensive variety of fasts recorded in the Bible for reasons ranging from spiritual insight and discipline, to mourning and repentance.
The recorded examples range from the fasting of one person to all of the Jews in the land fasting during the time of Esther. From the Old Testament, to the New Testament, to the Church today, fasting has been a godly concept that produces incomparable Spiritual intimacy with God.
Instead of eating, spend some real time in prayer
Whether you choose a slow fast, a fast fast, a food fast, a fast food fast or the flailed flaky fried fish fillet fast, remember that quality not quantity is what counts. Be sure you submit yourself to what God has called you to give to Him. Whether you fast 1 meal for 1 day, go 40 days without food, or anything in between--obedience is the key.
Earnestly seek the Lord to see what you should abstain from so that you will be able to focus your time and attention on Him and not on the things that easily distract you.
Now that the New Year is upon us, let's make decisions that will improve our lives not only this year, but forever (You can read a great article by an inspiring writer on New Year's goals: 2004, This is the Year in the archives).
In Matthew 17:20-21, the disciples couldn't cast the demon out of a little boy, but Jesus did. They asked Jesus how He was able to do this. Jesus told them that with faith, prayer, and fasting Nothing will be impossible for you.
As the Rock Church family unites to begin a 3 week fast, many members choosing to consume only fruits and veggies, be encouraged to participate by denying yourself and submitting to God's will.
As you understand exactly what God wants you to fast and how to dedicate time to Him during your fast, take time to read about the many fasts throughout the Bible. Be inspired by the amazing things God did in the lives of those who fasted.
Be sure to study and meditate on Isaiah 58. In this chapter you will find very detailed teachings on all of the aspects of "true" fasting.
Follow the Lord's guidelines for fasting and you can be sure that God's favor will be upon you. You will be blessed as you Fast Forward in Him.