Should you fast?
If you’re a Christian who doesn’t have a health problem that prevents it, you should.
The Scriptures are clear.
In Matthew 9:14-15 Jesus says that His disciples would fast when He was taken from them, and we live in that time now—the time between when He left and when He returns.
We don’t fast for one of three reasons:
1. We like to eat too much.
2. We associate it with some kind of mystical self-flagellation of the Middle Ages.
3. We didn’t really know the Scriptures taught it.
The first excuse is only more evidence why we should, and the second is an abuse of a good thing that has nothing to do with our properly practicing it. The third shouldn’t prevent our obedience once we’ve learned better.
In the middle of His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addresses three discipleship practices: giving, praying, and fasting. Notice how He begins His discussion of each one:
“Thus, when you give to the needy, . . . “ (Matthew 6:2).
“And when you pray, . . .” (Matthew 6:5).
“And when you fast, . . .” (Matthew 6:16).
You’ve probably heard many sermons on giving and praying, but not many—if any—on fasting.
Yet Jesus implies that it’s one of the things disciples do—they fast. He doesn’t even argue for its importance; He assumes His hearers already understood that.
Besides the fact that Jesus expects it, here’s what it’ll do for you:
It will bring you closer to God.
When fasting is mentioned in Scripture, it’s often associated with worship:
Luke wrote that the prophetess Anna “did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day” (Luke 2:37). When the church was preparing for the first missionary journey, “they were worshiping the Lord and fasting” (Acts 13:2), and this is when the Holy Spirit led them to send Paul and Barnabas to take the gospel to the world.
We’ve got to be careful.
We live in an indulgent society. Have you seen the soft drink commercial with “And” as its theme?
The commercial’s character always wants more. . . . if you’re going to offer me something, there’d better be something more. And . . . is that all you’ve got? And . . . what else can you do for me? And. And. And.
Sometimes we need to step away from all the excess of our society.
Too many gadgets. Too much stuff. Too many distractions. Too much food.
Too much And.
We can open up a clearer line of communication with God by engaging in self-denial.
We can fast so that our attention may be more intently focused God-ward, which is something we all desperately need.
Tomorrow we’ll discuss more about how.