Hunger, we’ve all experienced it. Nobody likes it. According to this Weight Watcher’s commercial, it’s like a small orange demon constantly tryin’ to “get ya”: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1ytP9oazCo).
Ok, if it’s all that bad, why would anyone, on purpose, bring it upon them self? Well, if you talk to many Christians they will tell you that fasting (willful abstinence from food) is one of the most spiritually beneficial experiences they’ve ever had.
Here are some of the Scriptural teachings about fasting…
But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.(Psa 35:13)
When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach.(Psa 69:10)
What is fasting?
The word “fasting” in the Bible is the translation of two different words. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word translated “fasting” means “to cover the mouth”. In the New Testament, the Greek word for “fasting” is describing a “willful lack of food”. When we view the concept of fasting, it is the idea that a person decides to allow their hunger to remain unsatisfied by not partaking of the desired food or drink.
Please under this… it is an extremely important point… any food desired, but willfully not partaken of, is a type of fast.
Notice in Daniel 1:8-13, the Israelite boys had chosen to fast specific flavorful items (king’s meat and wine) but they allowed themselves to partake of very bland food (pulse and water). Their hunger for tasty food was not satisfied even though they were partaking of nourishment. Much like a person desiring a steak is not satisfied by eating a boiled egg. If we are fasting, we can continue to eat food items as long as we do not satisfy the specific desire we are experiencing. ANYTIME WE REFUSE TO SATISFY A DESIRE OF OUR FLESH WE ARE FASTING.
What is the purpose of fasting?
Fasting is to help us learn to keep our flesh under control. Fasting is used to help us learn how to control our desires and not let them control us.
In our texts, fasting is described as “humbling my soul” (Psa 35:13) and “chastening my soul” (Psa 69:10). Both verses are using “soul” to describe our fleshly desires.
When we fast, we are saying to our fleshly desires:
”I control you! You do not control me!” (humbling our desires)
“I am going to discipline you and teach you to submit to my will!” (chastening our desires)
This is why in 1 Cor 7:5, fasting is done in conjunction with abstaining from marital relations (which involves fulfilling another type of fleshly desire.)
Why is fasting done in conjunction with prayer?
When we pray, we are to always pray in submission to our Heavenly Father’s will. This principle is clearly shown to us in Christ’s prayer before His arrest and crucifixion when He prayed…”O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. “ (Mat 26:39)
By fasting while in a season of prayer, we are constantly reminded of our need to place our fleshly desires second to that of our Lord’s will concerning the issue we are praying about. In every prayer, the intent of our heart should be “not my will, but thine be done”
Is Fasting For Today?
Fasting is not just an OT rite. It is to be practiced in our times as well. It is not to be stopped until the Lord comes back and takes His children to heaven with Him.
Note Mark 2:19-20…. “And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.”
When Christ was on the earth, the followers of Christ were not to fast, in recognition of their joy at their Lord being present with them. However, once Christ ascended to be with the Father, the fasting was to begin, and continue, until Christ is reunited with His disciples at the rapture.
This is why the churches fasted (following His ascension) at the sending of the missionaries (Acts 14:23 etc)
THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:
We are living in troublesome times. If you have any doubts, just listen to the news and you will realize many of the physical, political, economic and spiritual perils we all face in our country and the world.
Based on my previous series from Matt 24:, I have tried to explain why I believe we are living in the times immediately before the return of Christ. There is much to do for our Lord and, yet, there seems to be shrinking amount of time and workers getting the job done. There appears to be a very apathetic spirit entering the lives of Christians and churches these days.
It is time for Christians to begin fasting and praying for our country and the world. Pray and fast for the lost around us, it is very possible their time is running short. Pray and fast for one another, that the Lord might strengthen and protect each of us in these trying times.
And finally, as we pray, always make sure we are praying with a heart that is crying… “not my will, but thine be done”.
If there is anyone who has read this blog and has never submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ; maybe, you have never been able to say to God “not my will but thine be done.” The Lord has brought you to read this blog for a purpose. Perhaps, it was to awaken you to the spiritual need of your heart. It is not too late. There are Christians around this world fasting and praying for your salvation. You can begin to seek Christ by studying His Word. Read Peter’s sermon in Acts 4:8-12. There you will find what Christ has done for you so that you might be saved.
If you have any questions feel free to contact me, or any Bible believing church in your area. I’m sure they will be more than happy to tell you more about our wonderful Christ and all He has done for us.
If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at email@example.com. I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.
Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace”“The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike”http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace
May the Lord bless your study of His Word. Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”