Summary: This message examines some of the reasons we should fast as well as a beginner’s guide to fasting.
- Many feel that way when it comes to fasting - “I can’t go without food!” But you can and it can have tremendous spiritual benefits.
BIG IDEA: “Physical hunger can bring spiritual satisfaction.”
- Interest: sometimes we feel so close to God and want more and more of Him; other times we seem indifferent to our spiritual progress. How can we have more hunger?
WHAT IS IT? “Fasting is abstaining from something for a period of time.”
- The point that we need to open up with is simply that this is a matter of obedience to Christ. It would be nice if I could say tonight that it’s up to you to try this if you’d like to go a little deeper in your walk with Christ, but it’s more than that. It will take you deeper in your walk with Christ, but at one level it is simply a matter of obeying what He told you to do.
- Matthew 6:16 says “when” not “if.”
- This is something that hardly seems possible considering how little of this happens in Christians’ lives. Yet it is squeezed in here between prayer and giving, both of which we faithfully teach and preach. The simple, hard truth is that we have been disobedient.
- Look also at Matthew 9:14-15. The Bridegroom is gone. It’s time to fast.
- You may not totally understand why, even after the sermon this evening, but this is something that you need to take as marching orders from Him and move forward in faith that He knows what He’s talking about.
WHAT DOES IT DO?
- Matthew 6:18.
- Jesus says there that fasting (done correctly) results in rewards from the Father. I don’t think these are game-show rewards, but rather far more important and far deeper things.
- You’ll remember that the whole idea of this series is that there are physical disciplines that can make a spiritual difference. We need to use our bodies as slaves of righteousness and not slaves to sinfulness. The idea once again here is that doing something physical (fasting) can make a spiritual impact in our lives.
- A few things that fasting doesn’t do: it doesn’t make God love us more; it isn’t necessary so that God will forgive us; it is not a substitute for obedience; it is not get-rich-quick scheme.
- Here are some of the things that go on when we fast.
1. It makes us ask, “Am I as hungry for God as I am for food?”
- John Piper has said that many of us have no hunger for God because we are so stuffed by the world.
- Every time we feel a hunger pang and we think, “Man, I really would like to eat,” it can be a reminder to us: “Am I as hungry for God as I am for a hamburger?”
- We are in a sense giving up food in order to be able to feast on God.
- In John 4:34, Jesus said that His food was to do the will of His Father. Can we say that? Do we have that intensity of desire?
2. It reminds us that food does not sustain us; God does.
3. It reveals the things that control us.
- We are physical creatures and sometimes we let our physical needs have their way without any question as to whether they are appropriate or not. As we deny our body food for a period of time, it can be a time of reflection on what else we’ve just automatically given into that we should be showing more discipline in. Maybe it’s food. Maybe it’s lust. Maybe it’s gossip.
- One of my kids the other day, in getting punished for something he did, said, “But Dad, I couldn’t help myself.” That’s our excuse often times: “I felt the urge to do it, so I had to do it.” No, you didn’t.
- Also, although this sermon is primarily about physical fasting, it can be used in other areas as well. One example is a media fast. No TV, radio, computer, etc. for a day. If you don’t think technology has its hooks in you, try going a day without any media and see how often and how strong the pull is.
4. It makes us, perhaps for the first time in years, genuinely appreciate “our daily bread.”
- For many of us, we eat whenever we feel the slightest pang of hunger. Three meals a day plus two or three snacks. We don’t remember what’s hunger is really like.