Summary: The last in the series on Prayer. What is fasting and why should we fast?
Prayer with Fasting
JCC 20.01.10 am
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, "When you give..., when you pray..., when you fast." He presumes that we will fast. He follows each command with a contrasting instruction: "Don’t do it this way; but do it this way" Matthew 6:1-18
Unfortunately, today most Christians not only don’t fast, but don’t know much about fasting at all: food is ‘fast food’ to them
The biblical significance of fasting, however, is so profound throughout the Old and New Testament
For us to be ignorant or indifferent toward it, is equal to spiritual starvation
"But I’ll starve to death!" is exactly the way many Christians respond
We need to know the "what, why, when, and how" of fasting
What is fasting?
Both in the secular sense and in the biblical sense, fasting means abstaining from food
A total fast is abstaining from all food and drink Exodus 34:28
A normal fast allows drink Luke 4:2
A limited fast indicates restriction of certain types of foods Daniel 10:2-3
But it doesn’t always have to be total food fast or even just food
Paul speaks about abstaining from marital duties, but coming together so Satan doesn’t tempt you
I fasted from chocolate for over 6 mths
It shows that you are willing to put your body into submission and allow your spiritual man to have control
Why should we fast?
Because Jesus told us to
Isaiah gives clear spiritual and physical purpose for fasting:
a) Spiritual: "To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke."
b) Physical: "To deal your bread to the hungry, to bring the poor that are afflicted to your home, to clothe the naked, and to be available to help your own relatives" Isaiah 58:6-7
We can fast favourite things we like to do
TV, games etc
Anything we replace with prayer is a type of fasting
The early Church Fathers (monks) used fasting as part of their lifestyle.
To them, fasting was a central part of piety; it reduced passions and imparted a godly presence.
One monk, Evagrius, said,’ …physical passions require physical methods for their suppression…..hunger, work and withdrawal put out the flames of bodily desire…
When should we fast?
Definitely not when Christ the Bridegroom is around. "But when He is taken up from among them, then they will fast" Matthew 9:14-15
Because we are still waiting the return of the Bridegroom, now is the time to fast
We should use fasting regular with our prayer times
We perhaps need to look at fasting at some point as a church
How should we fast?
“Not as the hypocrites who put on a gloomy face and neglects their appearance in order to be seen fasting by men. Rather, brush your hair and wash your face so that nobody knows that you are fasting. Let it be a secret between you and your Father. For He knows all secrets and will reward you" Matthew 6:17-18
One of the finest books on the subject of fasting is Arthur Walls’ God’s Chosen Fast
When prayer and fasting are practiced in concert, they present a unique and powerful duo. Incorporate the practice of fasting with your prayer support
What should we pray for?
Pray for More Field Workers
Jesus left Capernaum. "He went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom, healing every sickness and disease among the people."
He had a heavy schedule
But on one occasion, "when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd
"Then He turned to His disciples, and said, The harvest truly is plentiful, but the labourers are few: therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest’" Matthew 9:35-38
He showed them a picture of a vast harvest field
Jesus shared how to reap the harvest
By praying for field workers
His harvesters are ordinary human beings who will be obedient to His Great Commission
People, like us who know Him, sharing with people who don’t
Jesus tells us to pray to the Father that He will send them out
There is a crying need for field workers today
This is a most needed area for prayer
But be careful when you pray this
Remember that several verses later He sent out the very men He had instructed to pray
Wesley and Whitefield stirred the dim embers of religion in this land
It was because godly people, perhaps poor obscure men and women as they read the Scriptures, saw the sad state of indifferences into which the nation had fallen