Sermons

Summary: A CALL TO FAST IS A CALL TO RETURN TO OUR SPIRITUAL SENSES.

The Bible is filled with examples of how prayer and fasting have brought the people of God into a closer relationship with God. God is immovable, but it is we who are making a move closer to God when we pray and fast. We can hear Him better both as an individual and as a church. Understand that our spiritual health and wellbeing as a Christian has a profound effect on the spiritual health and wellbeing of the rest of the body of Christ – THE CHURCH! So, we want all of us to be spiritually healthy for your sake, my sake, and the sake of everyone.

Let us read from Isaiah 58:1-9. The Devil wanted us to stay uninformed and misinformed or misunderstand prayer and fasting altogether. He doesn't want us to know the value of abstaining from food or drink for a season so that we could focus on God, and as a result of that time of prayer and fasting, the Spirit does His inner work in us and through us.

We gather spiritual strength and understanding to abandon the work of the flesh that Isaiah mentioned in 58:1-9. Prayer and fasting that comes from sincere hearts bring out the power of the Risen Christ in us by the Spirit – we become administrators of social justice and mercy. We become conduits of deliverance, of freedom, provision, a channel of love for others that they could see the light of Jesus! Isaiah 58:6-9 tells us that our time with God through prayer and fasting should make us better Christians. True Fasting brings inner transformation, not behavior modification.

Behavior modification was a rampant practice in Bible days, both in the Old and New Testament. People focused so much in trying to appear spiritual in the inside by imposing the do’s and don’ts in the religious circle. The Father could not stand such arrogance and spiritual bankruptcy, so He passed on a stern rebuke to these people through the Prophet Isaiah who certainly was moved by the Spirit of God.

Another thing that we can acknowledge is the fact that Fasting was a common practice in the New Testament.

(Matthew 6:16-18). When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth; they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

This spiritual discipline flowed from the spiritual practice among the Jews in the Old Testament and continued among the Christians in the New Testament church. Matthew wrote his gospel primarily with the Jewish audience in mind. When enabling Matthew to write, the Holy Spirit need not introduce the concept of fasting because the Jewish people and the Jewish nation already know what fasting is and how this spiritual exercise is being done both in individual and corporate scale, time immemorial from the Old Testament. We have to understand that at the time of Jesus, there was no New Testament, only the Hebrew Torah – OT. From the Torah, they already knew that they should fast three times a year. They fast when they need specific instruction from God, whether that would be over seeking direction over a major decision in life, or even the simple questions they may have for God to answer. They fast to repent before God. They also fast when they need God to protect and deliver them from oppression and attack of the enemy or for protection.

It was unfortunate that religion and legalism that Isaiah addressed in 58:1-9 persisted after thousands of years up to Jesus’ time. Jesus corrected the Pharisees and the religious people of their spiritual arrogance. They completely missed that their arrogance exposes their ignorance and lack of humility more than anything.

(Matthew 6:16-18). When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth; they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

And, Jesus was yet to teach them a lesson.

Luke 18:9-14 - The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

9 To some who were confident of their righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:

10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.

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