Overlooked Aspects of Fasting


It’s time for our church-wide fast!

We don’t study a lot about fasting anymore because it is not something we do very often. I think one of the reasons we don’t fast is because we don’t understand fasting. There have been several good books written on fasting and I’m not pretending to know more than those authors. But, I would love to talk about some of the overlooked aspects of fasting.

When speaking of a fast, Pastor Bob used to say, “I don’t know why they call it a fast because it sure does go slow!”

That was always my view! Fasting was always very hard for me as a believer. Primarily for two reasons:

  1. I didn’t understand why we fasted.
  2. During the fast, my focus was on how much I was suffering.

Think of it this way:

If I were to ask you what is the most powerful carnal drive we have, what would you say?

How about food?

From the moment we leave our mother’s womb, the drive to eat is present and powerful. If the truth be told, as we grow our appetite and diet is one of the most undisciplined areas of our lives.

Some may say, “Pastor, food is necessary for life!”

So are many things, some involuntary and some voluntary. We will not fast heartbeats and breathing. Although food is necessary for life, it is also one of the things that kills if it remains undisciplined!

Fasting allow us to get control of the appetite. Once we control the appetite, we control the strongest carnal desire we have. When you control the strongest carnal desire, you can control them all!

1 Corinthians 6:12: “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the stomach, and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”

There are a lot of physically healthy reasons to fast but I won’t go into those because that is a benefit but not my focus. Let’s go to Isaiah 58 to understand the spiritual aspect of fasting.

Verse 3 states that there is a fast which is performed to no spiritual benefit. Verse 5 states that God is not interested or moved when we afflict our bodies and act religiously. Verse 6 begins to tell us about the power of fasting.

The Power of Fasting

  1. To loose the bonds of wickedness.
  2. To undo heavy burdens.
  3. To let the oppressed go free.
  4. To break every yoke.

The implication here is to “violently” destroy these things whether they want to go or not. I was always on the defensive when I was fasting; trying to survive the fast! Fasting is an offensive weapon against the roots that hold us and others captive! Daniel fasted for himself (for revelation) and for Israel to be forgiven and freed.

Fasting is not an excuse for us to be pitiful. We are to wash our faces and comb our hair and go about business as normal because our warfare is not against flesh and blood – your flesh or others!

Matthew 6:16: “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly”.

When we fast, we don’t try to make it through by distracting ourselves with pleasures. Nor do we get angry because we are fasting and give everyone hell. There is ministry we do during our fast as well.

The Ministry of Fasting

  1. Share your food that you don’t eat during your fast with others.
  2. Take others into your home for ministry.
  3. Clothe those who need clothing.
  4. Minister to your family.

This is the overlooked aspect of fasting: That we are to minister to others as well as seek ministry for ourselves.

If we seek God humbly and on His terms, we can expect to experience the power of fasting.

The Product of Fasting

  1. Your light shall break forth like the morning – light of the lamp, light of the heavens, light of a clear sunshiny day, light of life, light of prosperity, light of instruction, light of the face.
  2. Your healing will speedily appear – complete recovery.
  3. Your righteousness shall go before you – shall be your leader.
  4. The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard- God has your back, your weaknesses and your vulnerabilities.
  5. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer and say, “Here I am!”

 

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Word for You!


 

As I was praying about what to share with you this week, I came across these passages. I hope that they speak to you as you go through the Holidays.

“If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday.

The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.”

Isaiah 58:9-12

As you come to the place where you can release people – even those who have not repented to you for wrongs done and those who continue in their abuses toward you and others – the stopping of giving people “the finger” – condemning them; and that includes condemning yourself, you will find strength return to you that has been stolen through emotional prisons built by unforgiveness and the maintenance of “high walls” to keep pain out.

If you can focus on the pain of those who are suffering and seek to be a respite by giving even a “cup of cold water” to help them, your light shall dawn in the darkness and soon you shall live as in noontime rather than midnight. Depression shall begin to break and life will begin to be fun again and make sense again.

Old waste places shall be places to bless you and others and no longer shall the “city” of your life be empty but filled with purpose. You shall be given a new name. Instead of “Broken” and “Destitute” – you shall be called “Repairer” and “Restorer.”

This is the heart of God and His will for you. Your part is to say, “Your will be done” and then receive His guidance!

Holidays are “holy days” – days of change for the better! Why so?

Because they are set apart – not for us to focus upon what we have or do not have but for an appointment with God. I pray that these days will serve their purpose in you and that you are energized and blessed!