It seems that our view of fasting has altered over the years from what I read in the Bible. It seems to of been quite a common practice in history, people using fasting as a way to connect with God and demonstrate humility. I do not see much of that now, do you?
I know some people do fast from food, but it think more often I have seen fasting from social media, or technology, or even heard of fasting as part of an eating program to lose weight, but these are not the kinds of fasts I read about in the Bible. Fasting was never about removing distractions or maintaining weight. From what I have read, fasting, abstaining from food (and maybe drink), for a period of time is about humility and communion with God.
The purpose of Biblical fasting is to; humble yourself before God, worship Him, communicate with Him, to show reverence and gain guidance from Him. Fasting is all about God. when we fast, God should be our focus. We should not come with an agenda, but a desire to demonstrate reliance on God, to show humility to Him and honour and worship Him. To put ourselves under His will rather than our own and ask Him to help us in our weakness.
This concept is not popular in our modern day society. We are caught up in being independent, taught that we are able to do anything, my kids have even been told that ‘impossible’ means ‘I’m possible’ - what is that about?!
We have been lied to folks. We have not been created to be self-sufficient beings, we cannot do everything. Some things are impossible for us. We do not have the power, the strength, the knowledge or capability to do some things. And that is ok. We are not meant to do it all on our own anyway.
We have been created not to be independent entities, but we are built for community. We are created to be in relationship with one another and with God. We are not meant to be selfishly doing our own thing or striving for independence, but actually should be striving to be fully dependent on God.
This is why fasting is important. It is about giving up even our most basic of needs to be fed and nourished in order to rely on God. It is about trusting that God is enough, and admitting that we aren’t. That is when fasting becomes powerful. When it becomes less about us and more about God.
Fasting was a common practice through ancient times as a way to show reverence and gain a closer relationship with God. People showed humility through it by demonstrating their physical weakness and dependence on Almighty God. Jesus even did it. As he fasted he gave his attention and focus to God and demonstrated his humility and weakness through fasting to his Father God.
Do you want to show God your humility and put all your dependence on Him? If so, then I invite you to participate in some kind of fast.
The Bible includes many different styles of fasting, abstaining from food for; a meal, a day, a week, 40 days, or even abstaining from some types of ‘rich food’ as Daniel did. Consider what is appropriate for you to do.
The practice of fasting was a part of culture and taken part in regularly, it seems we have lost something of the relevance or reverence for what it is. I think it is time to put fasting back on the agenda. Not as a one-off special, but as a regular practice in our christian lives. Are you ready to put this ancient, Biblical practice of fasting into practice.? To humble yourself and pray? To give up food in order to seek God?
Can you fast?