Wednesday, November 28, 2007
"Why Should Christians Fast?"
THE PURPOSES OF FASTING:
Fasting does not change God. It changes you. God relates to you on the basis of your relationship to Him. When you change, then the way God deals with you is affected. You do not fast to change God because God does not change. Fasting does change how He deals with you. Read the book of Jonah for an example of how this happened in the city of Ninevah.
On one occasion when the Disciples of Jesus failed to bring help to a demon possessed youngster, Jesus explained that "this kind" came out only by fasting and prayer (Mark 9:29). There are certain situations in life which you cannot face apart from prayer and fasting. More and more as the end time approaches, we will encounter "this kind" of situations, critical dilemmas we have never before experienced. Our victory over "this kind" will necessitate fasting.
There are definite spiritual purposes for fasting. It is important that you understand these purposes. If you fast for the wrong reasons or with no specific purpose, the fast will be ineffective. Study each of the following references. They reveal that people fasted:
-In response to a message from God: Jonah 3:5
-During times of wilderness testing: Luke 4:1
-During the threat of national calamity or war: II Chronicles 20:3
-When revelation was needed from God: Daniel 9:3-4
-When making decisions: Acts 13:2-3
-When making special requests before authorities: Esther 4:16
-To prepare for confrontation with demonic activity: Mark 9:29
-To humble ones self: Psalms 35:13; 69:10
-To repent of sin: Joel 2:12
-To feed the poor, both physically and spiritually: Isaiah 58:7
-To be heard of God: II Samuel 12:16,22; Jonah 3:5,10
-To loose bands of wickedness, lift heavy burdens,
set the oppressed free, and break every bondage: Isaiah 58:6
LENGTH OF THE FAST:
How long you fast depends upon what God speaks into your spirit. He may lead you to fast a brief or lengthy time. Remember the story of Esau and Jacob? Jacob was originally making a meal for himself but denied himself in order to obtain the birthright. How much better if Esau had fasted that meal!
If you have never fasted begin by fasting one meal. Next you might want to try fasting from sundown one day to sundown the next night. Then you might increase your fasting to more lengthy periods of time. You should always drink water on long fasts. You can go without food for long periods, but water is needed to maintain bodily functions.
PUBLIC AND PRIVATE FASTING:
Fasting is a personal matter between an individual and God. It is to be done in private and not boasted about:
Moreover when ye fast, be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance; for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.
But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. (Matthew 6:16-18)
Leaders may call a public fast and request the whole church fellowship to fast:
Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly.
GOD'S CHOSEN FAST:
Isaiah 58 describes God's "chosen" or divinely approved fast. God's chosen fast is one:
-Where you humble yourself before God: Verse 5
-To loose the bonds of wickedness: Verse 6
-Which undoes heavy burdens: Verse 6
-That frees the oppressed: Verse 6
-Done with unselfish motives and manifested charity: Verse 7
THE RESULTS OF FASTING:
When you fast, the first thing that happens is that God begins to reveal Himself to you. The Father says, "Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, `Here am I'" (Isaiah 58:9). Other results of fasting itemized in Isaiah 58 are:
-Illumination: Verses 8 and 10 declare that the dark periods of your life will become like noonday. When others think they have extinguished your spiritual light, it will rise again and breaks forth like the morning.
-Direction: Verse 11 promises that "the Lord will guide you continually."
-Provision: Verse 11 declares God will "satisfy your soul in drought." (This can apply to both material and spiritually lean times.) Verse 11 also describes unlimited spiritual resources. You will be like a "well watered garden," and "a spring of water whose waters do not fail."
-Rejuvenation: Verse 11 declares God will "strengthen your bones" and verse 8 proclaims that "your healing shall spring forth speedily."
-Restoration: Verse 12 indicates that you and your spiritual seed "shall build the old waste places, rise up the foundations of many generations...And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In."