On Sunday, we explored Jesus’ words in his famous Sermon on the Mount around sacrifice; particularly fasting and financial generosity. If you missed it, you can catch the video at the bottom of this post. Fasting goes hand in hand with prayer; each hunger pain acting as an alarm clock that reminds us of our deeper hunger for God and compelling us to seek His presence and power.
We periodically fast to remind ourselves that God is enough.
We fast to confess our creatureliness and dependence upon God’s sustaining power.
We fast to wean ourselves from a Christian life that can easily drift into “just going through motions.”
So to help us better understand this often-neglected spiritual discipline, here are five helpful keys on fasting from an article written by Sam Storms called, ‘Fasting is Feasting on God.’
1. The key is to remember that fasting is always motivated by deep desire.
That is to say, fasting is not the suppression of desire but the intense pursuit of it. We fast because we want something more than food or more than whatever activity it is from which we abstain. If one suppresses the desire for food it is only because he or she has a greater and more intense desire for something more precious. Something of eternal value.
That is why I say that fasting is feasting! The ironic thing about fasting is that it really isn’t about not eating food. It’s about feeding on the fullness of every divine blessing secured for us in Christ. Fasting tenderizes our hearts to experience the presence of God. It expands the capacity of our souls to hear his voice and be assured of his love and be filled with the fullness of his joy. Fasting is all about ingesting the Word of God, the beauty of God, the presence of God, the blessings of God. Fasting is all about spiritual gluttony! It is not a giving up of food (or some activity) for its own sake. It is about a giving up of food for Christ’s sake.
2. Fasting is not something you do for God. It is instead your appeal that God in grace and power do everything for you.
Thus fasting is not an act of willpower but a declaration of weakness. It is not a work of our hearts and bodies but a confession of our utter dependency on God and his grace.
3. Fasting is not a statement that food/other things are bad, but that God is better!
In other words, fasting is not a rejection of the many blessings God has given to us, but an affirmation that in the ultimate sense we prefer the Giver to his gifts. Fasting is a declaration that God is enough.
4. Fasting opens our spiritual eyes to see him more clearly in Scripture and sensitizes our hearts to enjoy God’s presence.
Look closely at Acts 13:1-3. Their fasting became the occasion for the Spirit’s guidance to be communicated to them. Don’t miss the obvious causal link that Luke draws. It was while/when or even because they were ministering to the Lord and fasting that the Holy Spirit spoke. I’m not suggesting that fasting puts God in our debt, as if it compels him to respond to us. But God does promise to be found by those who diligently seek him with their whole heart (Jer. 29:12-13). And what God said to them in the course of their fasting changed history.
5. Fasting is a powerful weapon in spiritual warfare.
See Mt. 4:1-11 (Jesus fasted in preparation for resisting the temptations of Satan) and Mark 9:29 (Mt. 17:14-21). Fasting heightens our complete dependence upon God and forces us to draw on him and his power.
Types of Food-Fasts
· Full Fast: drink only liquids.
· Daniel Fast: No meats, sweets, alcohol, or breads. Drink water and juice. Eat fruits and vegetables.
· Partial Fast: No food from sunrise to sunset. Eat after 7pm.
“Remember, the type of fast and length of fast is between you and God. He will honour your best sacrifice. If for health reasons you can’t go without food, then give up some other time-consuming activity that you can instead devote to seeking God through His Word and prayer.“