Summary: Using Nehemiah as an example, this is a message on the purpose of fasting and appropriate times to use this very special tool.
It happened when I was rummaging through my dad’s tool box. Let me back up a moment to explain. As a child I would often “borrow” my dad’s tools without permission. And it wasn’t usually to use them for their intended purpose.
You see, I had a very active imagination as a child and my dad’s tools would become props in whatever fantasy world I had made up. Socket wrenches would turn into laser pistols. Levels would become light sabers. Electric saws would become robots.
So as I rummaged through my dad’s tool chest, I knew I shouldn’t borrow something that looked expensive or important. After a short search, I found a tool I had never seen before. It didn’t look expensive. More importantly I had never seen my dad use it. I figured I’d be safe borrowing it.
If you are curious what it was, let me explain what it looked like. It had a red handle with an aluminum ring. It kind of looked like a tiny frying pan with no bottom on it. When I grabbed the handle and pulled it, the ring would tighten.
Anyway, a few weeks later Dad was working on his truck. He was doing a routine oil change. He also wanted to change the oil filter. The problem was that the filter would not turn by hand. So he dug in his toolbox for his oil filter wrench.
How many of you know what an oil filter wrench looks like? It has a handle on it with an aluminum ring that sinches tight when you pull the handle. It kind of looks like a small frying pan without a bottom in it. Guess what. My dad didn’t find it.
Now I don’t remember what I used it for. And I don’t remember if dad went and bought another wrench or if he just didn’t change the oil filter that time. I do remember that he was not real happy about not being able to find his wrench.
Now an oil filter wrench has one job. It is a specialty tool.
As we continue our series of messages on Spiritual disciplines: The Tools in our toolbox, I want to share with you a specialty tool for spiritual growth. The tool I want to talk about today is “Fasting.”
Often when we hear the word fasting, all we think about is skipping a few meals. We are not talking about skipping meals for the sake of skipping meals. We are going deeper than that. We are talking about skipping the consumption of one thing to see the benefits of another thing of far greater value.
The other thing I realize is that fasting is such a specialty discipline that if many of see it the tool box, we might not know how to use it. What is fasting for? And if I use it, how can it help us grow in our walk with Christ?
As we explore what fasting is for and how we can use it to grow, I hope to persuade you to try fasting in your own spiritual walk. So turn with me to Nehemiah 1 as we study together one example of how fasting is used in Scripture.
1 The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa,