Summary: A brief talk given before a prayer meeting on fasting.

Prayer and fasting (Prayer and Praise 1/4/3)

This is not something I¡¦m an expert at. There have been large chunks of years when I haven¡¦t been able (or wanted to!) fast because of

- illness

- tiredness


And there¡¦s no point in doing it if heart isn¡¦t in it

- true, it can PUT your heart in it, if you can start with a grain of correct attitude

ISA 58:3 `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.

ISA 58:4 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.

ISA 58:5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,

only a day for a man to humble himself?

Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed

and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?

Is that what you call a fast,

a day acceptable to the LORD?

¡K goes on to speak of right attitude and actions

COL 2:20 Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21 "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? 22 These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

So- set your mind on Jesus and your heart in the right place for this stuff! Enjoy it! You¡¦re doing it for your Lord!


To get closer to God. That¡¦s what makes it a joy! It really can help in this.

- if your attitude is right¡K you will really find this LIFTS you

AS part of regular discipleship

- ¡§when you fast¡¨

MT 6:16 "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. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 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.

- Notice: assumed you will

o = Godward ¡K for Him¡K not for man

To tune your soul

- there¡¦s this sense with all of the great men of God (Moses, Jesus, Elijah) who did 40 day fasts of them tuning their whole beings to the Father¡¦s

o basically the ¡¥flesh¡¦ or ¡¥sinful nature¡¦ as NIV rightly puts it (as ¡¥flesh¡¦ is not intrinsically evil) distracts us from God

„X ¡§the world, flesh and the devil¡¨

- by fasting we deny, tune our ¡¥flesh¡¦, ¡¥master¡¦ it¡K subjugate it

o so that we can be more sensitive to the Spirit

- 1CO 6:12 "Everything is permissible for me"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"--but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"--but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body

o but please note: we ¡¥master¡¦ the flesh, crucify the flesh, ¡¥beat the flesh¡¦ (1 Cor 9:27, to get the prize)¡K but always respect it and look after it (or we become like Col 2:20!)

To show you¡¦re serious with God

To humble yourself (Cf Is 58 passage, Ezra 8:21)

- to allow grief expression, if you like (1 Sam 31:13, Ps 35:13)

To be more like Jesus

- he did it.

- To copy Him

- To ¡¥enter into His sufferings¡¦ (cf lent)

To cleanse out the body (= a great side-benefit!)

To seek God for something

- holiness

- guidance

EX 34:27 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel." 28 Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant--the Ten Commandments.

- Someone else (vicarious)

Ez 10:6 Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. While he was there, he ate no food and drank no water, because he continued to mourn over the unfaithfulness of the exiles.

EST 4:15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish."

o David fasted for his sick son

From What?

Typically: food and water (even the 40 day fasts!)

- now, naturally, that¡¦s not possible

- it is naturally possible for less, though- Acts 9, Saul fasted from food and water for 3 days


- be sensible!

o I couldn¡¦t fast as I¡¦d lose my voice

o Beware if hypoglycaemic, breastfeeding, ill, extremely busy etc etc

- Build up to it

- Keep your body fluid. Drink lots. Headaches are often caffeine withdrawal!

Can fast from other things

- it¡¦s about a) denying yourself b) giving yourself more time (not ¡¥punishing¡¦ yourself!)

- TV, leisure, sex

o Scriptures extremely balanced on this

o 1 Cor 7:5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control

o other things: sleep etc

Something that costs:

2SA 24:24 But the king replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing."

So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them. 25 David built an altar to the LORD there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the LORD answered prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.

= a concept of scripture

- animals for sacrifice, breaking neck of firstborn donkey, giving first 10% etc, gold etc for tabernacle


In scripture

- regular, occasional, festivals (5 of them, ie Yom Kippur)

- occasional

o for the individual (ie Paul, Acts 9)

o corporate

„X Acts 13:2-3 choosing missionaries

„X Acts 14:23 choosing Elders

Many Pharisees fasted twice a week (Lk 18:12)

LK 18:9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

LK 18:13 "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

LK 18:14 "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

- so again, it comes down to attitude.

- - if your attitude is right you¡¦ll find you WANT to fast,

o occasionally or regularly

- God gives the GRACE to be able to move forward on this kind of thing

o It¡¦s all about ATTITUDE and GRACE