Summary: "God’s 9 Main Purposes for Fasting" from Is. 58 make for a great outline and eye-opening sermon for your committed crowd. Also, Biblical admonitions on the Benefits and Dangers to consider when fasting. Free Powerpoint at website.
A Fast Message From God
PowerPoint at: http://www.gbcdecatur.org/sermons/FastMessage.html
I. Definition of Fasting
Fasting=a voluntary withdrawing from food and/or drink, or other fleshly appetite, for a specified period of time.
3 most basic types of fasting mentioned in the Bible:
A. Normal fast [food]
Jesus began His earthly ministry w/ prayer and fasting.
Mt. 4:1-2—a 40 day fast Jesus completed!
Jesus taught His disciples to fast
16 Moreover when (not if) ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance…
Though fasting is never commanded, Jesus assumed that the disciples would want to in order to see great things happen!
But it’s not something a Christian has to do, but can choose to do…not many guidelines given in scripture about fasting, either!
Normal fast is no food, only liquids like water, juice, etc…it can last for 1 day (Judges 20:26—1 day fast)
That’s a good place to start!
3 day fast (Paul did this right after getting saved)
40 day fast (several examples in Bible)
Several men alive today who have done 40 day fasts and would say it was absolutely life-changing! (still took in liquids, of course!) [Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, 1994/James Dobson, Focus on the Family/Jerry Falwell/others]
B. Partial fast
Good if you have diabetes, hypoglycemia, or some other condition which precludes a normal fast.
In the partial fast you omit certain foods for a while, but not others.
Dan. 1—he and 3 Hebrew children did a partial fast, and at the end were stronger and healthier than those eating what they wanted.
Elijah did this on 2 occasions/John Wesley was well known for going days on end eating only bread and water/some give up meats for a time, eating only vegetables/just skipping a meal to spend time in prayer would be another example of a partial fast, or not indulging in things you like as much as just “getting by” w/ something basic, bland. [Giving up flesh’s desires to concentrate on the Spirit!]
C. The absolute fast
Moses went on this kind for 40 days, nothing enters your mouth at all…can be done for a very short time…consult a dr.!
This is the first mention of a fast in scripture -- Ex. 34:28
(law of 1st mention)
27 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.
28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
When Moses received the 10 commandments from God, he engaged in a 40 day fast.
You may have noticed it said he didn’t eat OR drink…don’t anybody go out of here and try that! That is a human impossibility apart from divine intervention…some have worked up to a 40 day fast from food, but no one could survive 40 days w/ no drink…this was a miracle!
II. Purpose of fasting
A way to seek God by denying the physical in order to focus on the spiritual…
…for this reason prayer and fasting must always go together (or it does you no good spiritually!)
Of course, there are physical benefits: medical dr’s are discovering more and more benefits to fasting…because the body is designed to heal itself on a cellular level…as we eat and take in various toxins, processed foods, medicines, etc., we hold a certain amount of poisons in our cells…but when we fast many of those things are flushed out of our system!
But if you want a spiritual benefit, make sure and take the time you would have spent eating and transfer it to prayer time!
II Chron. 20: 3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.
Ezra 8: 23 So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was intreated of us.
And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,
Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.
Another point made by this verse is that when we fast it ought to be from ALL physical desires, not just food!
Let go of the physical, focus on the spiritual!
Usually we fast and pray when we have a special need.