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).