Summary: Fasting is not required in the New Testament, neither is it condemned. When used properly it can help us have a closer relationship with God
THE FAST AND THE PRAYER-OUS
Text: Matthew 6:16-18
1. When I let my wife know that I was thinking about preaching on fasting, she said, "You’ve probably never fasted in your life."
a. That’s not true (when I was younger, fasted with aunt and uncle)
b. So I have fasted (just not lately)
2. I am not going to spend time trying to tell you that the New Testament teaches that we must fast.
a. I do not believe that fasting is a requirement
b. But I will not say that it is condemned either
3. We like to look at Old Testament decrees as simple precepts and the New Testament as making application of those precepts to your life.
4. Let’s examine this issue in that light.
5. Fasting was done in order to spend more time praying and communing with God.
6. It is giving something up in order to clear room in your life for your relationship with Christ.
7. So fasting was done to clear room in your life to commune with God.
TRANSITION: First let us determine what fasting was and is.
1. To abstain from food or drink as a religious exercise
2. Either entirely if it was a short time
3. Or selected nourishment if it was for several days
B. The word does involve abstaining from or severely limiting your food intake.
C. Jesus fasted at least once that we know of in Matthew 4:2.
1. He went into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan
2. He went in order to prepare himself for what was to come
a. His work that was to come
b. And the temptations that he was going to face
c. 4:1 says that he went into the wilderness to be tempted by
d. He gave up his regular diet in order to help prepare himself for what he was about to face
D. Fasting was a time of giving up food in order to pray and commune with God
E. It is neither bound nor prohibited here or anywhere else in the New Testament.
TRANSITION: I think it now goes beyond the simple food issue today.
II. What do we fast from today?
A. John 4:32-34
1. 32, "I have food that you do not know about."
2. 34, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work."
B. So is the preacher saying we should quit studying God’s word in order to commune with God?
1. Absolutely not
2. Without studying God’s word we cannot commune with him
a. We cannot know him
b. We cannot approach him
c. We cannot have any part with him
C. What I am suggesting is that we abstain from the desires, cares, and concerns of the world.
1. Placing the spiritual over the physical
2. Learning to get your food from God and not from the physical food we eat
3. "It is written, ’Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’." Matthew 4:4
D. Not that we never eat
1. Matthew 6:11 "Give us this day our daily bread."
2. But we let go of the need to feel in control
a. Understand that God provides
b. Do not even let physical food take precedent over spiritual food.
c. Give up the world so you can stay focused on God
d. "Let go and let God"
TRANSITION: What else do we give up?
A. "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable"