Summary: Fasting is a spiritual discipline for inward communion with God.
A. INTRODUCTION: MATTHEW 6:16-18
“When you fast, don’t make it obvious to others, as the hypocrites who try to look mournful or disheveled like they didn’t comb their hair, or wash their face. Don’t try to get people to admire you for fasting. That is the only reward you will get. But when you fast, arrange your hair and shave so no one will suspect you are fasting, except your heavenly Father who knows everything you do. Then your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you openly” (Matt. 6:16-18).
1. Fasting is a spiritual discipline for inward communion with God, or deep contrition against temptation, when you go without food to demonstrate your sincerity to God.
2. Fasting without prayer is not enough, “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matt. 17:21).
3. Required for all on the Day of Atonement. “On the appointed day . . . you must spend the day fasting and not do any work” (Lev. 16:29, LB).
4. A Yom Kippur fast is from sundown to sundown, giving up the evening meal, breakfast and lunch.
B. 10 NEGATIVES OF FASTING
“When you fast, be not . . .” (6:16).
1. It’s not giving up food; it is a relationship with God.
2. It’s not about getting things from God, it is knowing God.
3. It’s not a testimony to others, “Appear not unto men to fast” (6:18).
4. It’s not turning your back on pleasure, it is finding pleasure in God.
5. It’s not meritorious, it is willingly.
6. It’s not about wearing clothes, i.e., sack cloth.
7. It’s not about mournful gestures, i.e., ashes. “Disfigure their face” was actually “make face unappeasable,” or neglected.
8. It’s not what we give up.
9. It’s not about what others will think.
10. It’s not about making it through.
C. 10 POSITIVES FROM FASTING
1. You will establish an honest relationship with God.
2. You will get answers to your prayer-ask (Is. 58:6, 9).
3. You will eliminate barriers between you and God. “They gathered . . . and fasted . . . and said, we have sinned against the Lord” (1 Sam. 7:6).
4. You will break addictions and bad habits. “To loose the bands of wickedness” (Is. 58:6).
5. You intercede for others. “They gathered . . . and fasted . . . cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us” (1 Sam. 7:6, 8).
6. You will get spiritual insight. “Is not this the fast I have chosen . . . then your light shall spring forth” (Is. 58:6, 8).
7. You will get spiritual protection. “Is not this the fast I have chosen . . . the Lord shall be your rear guard” (Is. 58:6, 8).
8. You will get physical healing. “Is not this the fast . . . healing shall spring forth” (Is. 58:6, 8).
9. Your spiritual warfare. “I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth . . . but the prince of Persia withstood me twenty-one days” (Daniel 10:3, 13).
10. You energize missions outreach. “Having fasted and prayed . . . they sent them (missionaries) away” (Acts 13:3).
D. 10 THINGS TO FAST EFFECTIVELY
1. Fasting is inward to God, not outward.
2. Fasting puts Jesus first in your agenda.
3. Fasting is hungering after righteousness. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matt. 5:6).
4. Fasting begins when you yield everything to God.
5. Write out your purpose for which you are fasting.
6. Then write out other prayer requests.
7. Determine the time you will pray.
8. Determine the place you will pray.
9. Write out the time you will begin and end your fast.
10. Remember humility. “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matt. 11:11).
E. FASTING CHECKLIST
Fast: What you will withhold _____________________________________
Begin: Date __________________________ Time ___________________
End: Date ____________________________ Time ___________________
Vow: I believe God is the only answer to my request and that prayer without fasting is not enough to get an answer to my need. Therefore, by faith I am fasting because I need God to work in this matter.
Bible basis: My Bible promise ___________________________________ ____________________________________________________________
Resources: What I need during this fast ____________________________ ____________________________________________________________
Vow: God being my strength and grace being my basis, I commit myself to the above fast.
If you have never really accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, would you do it right now? Do not delay or put it off. If you would like to receive Christ by faith, pray this simple prayer in your heart: