Summary: Fasting. What is it? We used to hear about it a lot years ago, why not now? How should it be done, with what attitude and what can we expect from this spiritual discipline?
Have you ever heard this phrase?
“What’s your problem???”
We all have problems! Some of us have personality problems such as selfishness, unforgiveness, anger, lust, greed, laziness, gluttony, drunkenness, body odor, wastefulness of God’s great provisions, spiritual pride, no concern for the lost, no hunger for God and His Word and the list goes on and on.
We may think we doing just fine without a care in the world and that certainly is a sign of problems, so, “What’s your problem??”
Well, if we have problems and we all do there is one spiritual discipline that we used to hear about a lot when I was a kid but we don’t hear about it so much any more and that is.
Fasting. What is it?
Nehemiah and the Israelites fasted
King David fasted
Queen Esther, Mordecai and the Jewish captives fasted
Jeremiah called the nation of Israel to fast
The prophet Joel called the nation to fast
Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher who blessed
The disciples fasted
These all fasted and many more found in Scripture but as with all things where people are involved, there is a holy way to fast and an evil way to fast.
We see fasting by the people of Israel in Isaiah 58 which draws a rebuke from the Lord.
Isaiah 58:1-9 (NIV)
“Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to My people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
“For day after day they seek Me out; they seem eager to know My ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
“They ask Me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and You have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists.
“You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves?
“Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
“Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter - when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
“Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say: ‘Here am I.’”