|Posted on February 12, 2011 at 9:35 PM|
I don’t know that much about Biblical fasting. I’ve only done it once, but I do remember it being an experience I want to repeat. I’m in a Bible study with some women at church going through a workbook based on the book, The Power of a Praying Woman by Stormie Omartian. The 6th week is about prayer and knowing God’s will. As I’m going through just the first day, I realize part of why I have such a hard time knowing His will. I DON’T BRING THINGS BEFORE HIM IN PRAYER! Seems pretty simple, huh? I don’t mean to say that I don’t pray, but how can I expect to hear Him if I’m not VERY familiar with His voice? Knowing His will is about being in strong communion with Him (prayer) and knowing what He’s already revealed to us (in His Word). I don’t mean perfunctory prayer before meals or in small group for those present. Paul told us to pray without ceasing, right? (1 Thessalonians 5:7) That is more than a short chat here and there. Isn’t communication the foundation of any human relationship? How much more does God deserve from us? So, how can I improve communication with my God? Obviously, I’m seeing that I need to put more time into being with Him. However, I also want to improve the quality of that time. I think fasting is one way to do this. Don’t forget, fasting is always connected with prayer and being in the Word.
Why fast? Since it was a common practice in both the Old and New Testament (including Jesus), it seems pretty obvious. Other reasons (full list with additional scripture here):
- To minister to others Isaiah 58:6-7
- Intercession Exodus 24:18
- Humbling oneself Psalms 35:13
- Seeking God’s will Ezra 8:21-23
- Repentance and confession of sin Nehemiah 1:4-7
- Mourning another's death 2 Samuel 1:12; 3:35
- Out of concern for another's safety Daniel 6:18
- When faced with threats on one's own life Esther 4:3; 9:1-3
How’s it done? HUMBLY! Prepare your heart through confession, etc. The length of time is something you can ask God about since it may be different each time. It’s clear that fasting isn’t something you shout about from the mountaintops.“But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:17-18
There are two types of fasts:
- Partial: fasting from one particular item (sugar, meat, etc.)
- Absolute: fasting from all food (sometimes also from all liquids, which you MUST be sure that God is calling you to before attempting)
A word to the wise: don’t do it if you have an eating disorder, a major medical condition or are pregnant or nursing. Fasting in any of those situations is directly opposed to the commandments that Jesus sited as most important:
Jesus replied:“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
There’s pretty thorough guide on the Campus Crusade site.
What I’ve heard from others who have ever fasted or fast on regular basis is that you are totally focused on God during that time. Would anyone like to share their experience with fasting?