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Some Thoughts on Fasting

Fasting is something that God’s people have participated in for centuries. In the Bible, it’s associated with individual people, an entire spiritual community, or even a nation abstaining from food in repentance for sin or to discipline the flesh nature.  It’s also a way to demonstrate serious concern before the Lord or to request His intervention (I Samuel 31:13, II Samuel 1:12, II Samuel 12:15-23, I Kings 21:27-29, Nehemiah 9:1-2, Joel 2:12-13).  Fasting is usually coupled with prayer in both the OT and NT.

Jesus engaged in fasting and spoke about it as well.  He warns us against fasting for religious “show” or with an idea to manipulate the Father through our discipline.  See Matthew 4:1-2, Luke 4:1-2, Matthew 6:16-18, Matthew 9:14-15, Mark 2:18-20, Luke 5:33-35.  

Essentially, it’s an act of simple devotion to God that involves abstaining from certain foods or activities for a limited time. This can be practiced privately or within community as an expression of togetherness (and it helps to keep each other on track!).

Rather than just limiting food-intake, some people choose to forego certain activities in order to give increased attention to the Lord, such as social media, TV, or gaming, for instance.  It’s not meant to be a “rule to follow” (Isaiah 58, Jeremiah 14:11-12) rather, it’s a way to prioritize our relationship with the Lord in a tangible, daily way, above our natural appetites.  It’s about a desire to deepen our spiritual lives and to experience the Father in an increasing way.  

A practical note: if you decide to lower your food-intake, please be sure that your doctor allows it and that your schedule can adjust for the decreased energy you’ll likely experience.  Maintaining our regular busy schedules while not eating isn’t the goal.  Scheduling times for prayer, however brief, throughout our day will help to make the fast a rich interaction with the Lord who loves us.