The purpose of fasting should be to take my eyes off the things of this world to focus completely on God. Fasting is a way to demonstrate to God, and to myself, that I am serious about my relationship with Him. Fasting helps me gain a new perspective and a renewed reliance upon God.
I am thinking this part of the bible has been ripped out of most Evangelical and Protestant bibles. I don’t know the last time I’ve heard a sermon or teaching on fasting. This is a Jesus thing, not an old covenant thing.
Is it not an Old Testament exercise, we ask, enjoined by Moses for the Day of Atonement, and after the return from Babylonian exile required on some other annual days, but now abrogated by the Messiah? Nope!
Fasting may express our self-humbling before God.
For if ‘penitence and fasting’ go together in Scripture, ‘prayer and fasting’ are even more often coupled. This is not so much a regular practice, so that whenever we pray we fast, as an occasional and special arrangement, so that when we need to seek God for some particular direction or blessing we turn aside from food and other distractions in order to do so.
Our Master Jesus himself fasted immediately before his public ministry began; and the early church followed his example, the church of Antioch before Paul and Barnabas were sent out on the first missionary journey, and Paul and Barnabas themselves before appointing elders in every new church which they had planted. The evidence is plain that special enterprises need special prayer, and that special prayer may well involve fasting.
Fasting — What kind of attitude do I need?
- Psalm 35:13 — But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled my soul with fasting, And my prayer kept returning to my bosom.
- 1 Kings 21:27–29 — It came about when Ahab heard these words, that he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and fasted, and he lay in sackcloth and went about despondently. Then the word of the Master came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, “Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days, but I will bring the evil upon his house in his son’s days.”
- Ezra 8:21 — Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God to seek from Him a safe journey for us, our little ones, and all our possessions.
- Psalm 69:10 — When I wept in my soul with fasting, It became my reproach.
Scripture does not command the disciples to fast. God does not require or demand it of the followers of Jesus. At the same time, the Bible presents fasting as something that is good, profitable, and beneficial.
The book of Acts records believers fasting before they made important decisions (Acts 13:2; 14:23). Fasting and prayer are often linked together (Luke 2:37; 5:33). Too often, the focus of fasting is on the lack of food.