Why Should I Fast Anyway?
When I became a Christian, a fast was something that was only casually mentioned, but I never really knew anyone who fasted as a consistent discipline in their Christian walk. Then I went to Bible college and my first semester we had to take a class called, “Christian Formation.” My 18 year-old, know-it-all self tirelessly mocked this class, thinking that I didn’t need a class on how to be Christian. During this class, we discussed basic disciplines like tithing, daily Bible reading, and fasting.
I can vividly remember rolling my eyes throughout most of the time we discussed fasting. “What an old, archaic practice, no one really fasts anymore” was the thought that typically floated around my mind as I made up excuse after excuse as to why I didn’t need to fast. My mind couldn’t understand why anyone would willingly starve themselves. I just couldn’t understand it. It wasn’t until much later, when I started to understand why fasting is important. I want to share some of the most important reasons as to why we, as Christians, should have fasting as a consistent spiritual discipline in our lives.
First, we need to understand what fasting actually is. A Biblical definition of fasting is a Christian’s voluntary abstinence from food for spiritual purposes. This definition tells us a few things, a fast has to be done of your own free will and it has to have purpose. A fast without these two things is just a crazy, hard and dangerous diet.
Now that we have a basic understanding of what fasting is, we need to know that Jesus expected us to fast.
Matthew 6:16-18 - Jesus says, “ When you go without eating, don’t try to look gloomy as those show-offs do when they go without eating. I can assure you that they already have their reward. Instead, comb your hair and wash your face. Then others won’t know that you are going without eating. But your Father sees what is done in private, and he will reward you.”
The word “when” tells us that this is something we should be doing. Jesus didn’t say “if you fast…” He didn’t give us an option to fast. In these verses, Jesus gave us a command and instructions to of what to do when we fast. He expects us to fast.
As I said earlier, fasting also must be done for a purpose. These purposes include:
1. Strengthening your prayer life (Ezra 8:23)
2. Seeking God’s guidance (Judges 20, Acts 14:23)
3. Expressing grief (Judges 20:26, 1 Samuel 31:13)
4. Seeking deliverance or protection (2 Chronicles 20:3-4, Ezra 8:21-23, Esther 4:16)
5. Expressing repentance and returning to God (1 Samuel 7:6, Joel 2:12)
6. Humbling oneself before God (1 Kings 21:27-29, Psalm 35:13)
7. Expressing concern for the work of God (Nehemiah 1:3-4, Daniel 9:3)
8. Ministering to others (Isaiah 58:6-7)
9. Overcoming temptation (Matthew 4:1-11)
10. Expressing love and worship to God (Luke 2:37)
There may be other purposes for your fast, however it is important to define them before your fast and keep them at the forefront of your mind during the fast. These reasons are going to be your driving force when there’s chocolate cake in the breakroom, or when you are day dreaming of downing the biggest ribeye your stomach can handle.
So why should you fast? Because Jesus fasted. Because there are things in your life that you need to overcome. Because you have friends and family who need Jesus and you need to know how to reach them. Because you have a burning passion to deepen your walk with Jesus. There’s a million reasons to fast! Don’t have the same mindset as the young, naïve Kristen!
Fasting is not just an old practice, but it is for us to practice today! Keep up the good work! Preserve, push through and keep going!
Pastor Kristen Boles - NEW LIFE CHURCH BISMARCK