Summary: Indeed it has become quite a challenge to practice the discipline of fasting from food in a society today which is dominated by changing work environments, time structures, consumerism and many health concerns at large.
When you Fast do not exploit
A very challenging theme this morning: “When you fast do not exploit”.
Indeed it has become quite a challenge to practice the discipline of fasting from food in a society today which is dominated by changing work environments, time structures, consumerism and many health concerns at large.
There are real issues today where people who want to fast from food are medically advised not do so on the grounds of physical conditions and age factors.
How does one go about the discipline of fasting in such a complex environment? What exactly is the Biblical dimension of fasting? And how does fasting affect the life of the 21st Century Christian in the modern framework that s/he lives in?
Food is available at our doorstep. Living in times where we can order the Italian and the continental food online; certain foods which were once the delight of the elite and a distant dream for millions.... today is available at our own neighborhood.
But the question is: “Are we eating to live or living to eat?”. The Greek Philosopher Hippocrates once said, “all diseases begin in the stomach.” The food in the stomach affects your moods and your performance.
So food is good; but the world today is pre-occupied with eating, but worried about fasting. Many people today are fasting God out of their lives.
Fasting may not be an outright command in the Bible but it has been modeled by many Spiritual giants throughout history.
The basic purpose of fasting is about abstaining for a time from everything that matters to life (not just fasting from food, but even fasting from your hobbies, fasting from spending too much time with people, fasting from the internet, fasting from social media and from everything digital for a time) to get alone with God in humility so as to focus on God and His Will, and seek breakthroughs for your life and for others.
“The voluntary denial of a normal function for the sake of intensive spiritual activity”-is fasting!
The challenge you to fast from Television for two days and pray to God as the Holy Spirit enables
David Wilkerson… before he became a well-known American Preacher, used to watch "Late night Shows" on TV. But one day he asked God: "God what would happen, if I sold my TV and spent the time—praying?" After David Wilkerson prayed that prayer in 1958, the world would soon find out what would happen when he sold his Television. After he sold his television, David Wilkerson began to devote his nights to hours of prayer. And he went on to be a trailblazing pastor to the dangerous gangs of New York.
When was the last time you fasted? May be for a blood test, or perhaps before a surgery…but nevertheless there is a place for fasting in the life of the believer.
But some may not be able to fast from food because they are diabetic, for example or age-factor.
The biblical doctrine of fasting is to fast from something that you really care.
So anything given up temporarily in order to focus all your attention on God can be considered a fast (1 Cor. 7:1-5).
Jesus in Mark 2:20 makes it very clear that he expected that his disciples would fast after he ascended into heaven.
But ‘fasting’ is not ‘hunger-strike’.
‘Hunger-strike’ is about making somebody submit to our demands….whereas ‘Fasting’ is about submitting to God’s demands without intending to punish the body.
Every major religion in the world practices ‘fasting’ having their own perspectives! So fasting is basically man’s inclination to reach out to God which God incorporates to fellowship with Man in a greater intensity.
But too often, the focus of fasting is on the absence of food; instead focus while fasting should be to reject the things of this world and wait for God’s intervention in our lives.
But fasting changes us, not God. God can never be pressurized no matter how long one’ fasts. We may still have to go through the difficult circumstances – but the more we are willing to fast and pray through the process, the more we will be rewarded with the power and the presence of God to strengthen our faith for the journey no matter what that may be. Fasting is a serious business for a child of God to become sensitive to the voice of God and the things of the Holy Spirit.
“Being full of the Holy Spirit is better than a full stomach.”
But people today have misunderstood the purpose of fasting; as it happened with the people during Isaiah’s time as we read from Isaiah 58.
We read in Isaiah 58 that the people fasted to engage God to act on their selfish desires.
These people saw fasting as denying themselves from food so that they might gain something worldly of God in return.