I realize the subject of fasting is not a popular thing to talk about, but that is exactly why we need to discuss it. Few biblical practices are neglected in the church today like fasting. Here are three reasons why we all need to be fasting.
1. We need to fast because we need to be devoted to prayer. Fasting is simple. For a relatively short period of time, we devote ourselves so thoroughly to prayer that we even neglect the most basic act of eating. This isn’t because we believe God will hear our prayers better when we fast, but because we are making it clear to our own mind and heart: prayer is far more important than eating.
When a major decision has to be made, when calamity strikes, or even as a regular discipline, fasting and prayer go hand-in-hand. For instance, when Nehemiah heard about the deplorable condition of Jerusalem he, “sat down and wept and mourned for days, and continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4). I think about things that are happening in our world today and wonder, “Why are we not encouraging Christians to pray and fast about these things?”
- The rioting in Baltimore should cause Christians to fast and pray.
- The earthquake in Nepal should cause Christians to fast and pray.
- The spiritual condition of our culture – and the church – should cause Christians to fast and pray.
- And the list could go on and on.
Picture a 9-year-old boy coming up to his father to ask a question, but without even looking up from a handheld video game on which he is playing. The father is likely to ask, “Is this not important enough that you would stop playing your game for a few minutes while you talk to me?” Or even, “Am I not important enough for you to stop playing while you talk to me?”
Are not these issues – and God Himself – important enough that we stop eating for a little while in order to fully devote ourselves to talking with our Father?
2. We need to fast because we need to consider what we are truly hungry for. This is one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves. Fasting helps us examine ourselves and ask ourselves questions like these:
- Am I more hungry for the things of this world than I am for righteousness?
- Do I worship God because I long for the things He gives me or because I long for God Himself?
- If I had to choose between God and food, which would I choose?
Fasting is a wonderful way to root out the “idols” in our lives. We must ask ourselves if we are truly pursuing the Lord or pursing earthly things. Fasting helps us say with our whole hearts, “The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in him” (Lamentations 3:24).
3. We need to fast because we believe in restoring New Testament Christianity. One of my biggest frustrations is inconsistency. If we are going to say we want to be the church of the New Testament, then fasting is a practice we must restore.
- Jesus fasted (Matthew 4:2).
- Jesus said His disciples would fast after He returned to heaven (Matthew 9:15).
- Jesus gave instructions for fasting (Matthew 6:16-18).
- The church fasted and prayed before sending missionaries out to preach the Good News (Acts 13:3).
- The church fasted and prayed when appointing elders (Acts 14:23).
If we are truly going to be the church of the New Testament we must not only pray, we must fast as well.
I realize some people have medical conditions that make fasting impossible. And remember that you don’t have to fast for days or even 24 hours, you could simply skip a meal and spend that time devoted to prayer. And if you medically can’t fast from food at all, perhaps you could find other things from which to fast.
“But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:17-18).
I love you and God loves you,