A few weeks ago I needed to have some laboratory tests done that required a 12-hour fast. I cheated! I had some coffee before the test that was heavily laden with sugar. Guess what! My glucose levels came back very high. This led to some more tests which have resulted in some drastic changes to my lifestyle: diet, rest and exercise. Overall, this “misstep” on my part led to good results. I’m loosing weight and generally feeling much better.
But there was, I think, a much more important result from my “cheating” on my medical fast. For the first time in my life I began thinking and studying about spiritual fasting.
I began by asking some questions:
What does one do to fast?
What are the expected outcomes of fasting?
Why haven’t I considered fasting before (except for medical tests)?
What is the difference between fasting and making other sacrifices to God? (Examples might be gifts and offerings or the things many give up for Lent)
If I fast, when, for how long and how often?
What results might come from fasting?
What does God’s Word say about fasting?
Before reading on, you might do a quick survey of these questions and one other:
Do I (you) fast? Why or why not?
As to this last question, I have to admit I have never fasted for spiritual purposes. Until recently, I’d never even given it more than passing consideration, and that more from the standpoint of curiosity than seriousness. I suspect that is true of many if not most of us.
In the past couple of weeks I’ve looked much more deeply into fasting. My eyes have been opened.
In Matthew 6, Jesus describes three duties of a disciple:
Giving to those in need.
For each of these He says to do so in a private manner. As Paul would say, do this in private so as to not be boastful. Jesus’ guidance to do these three things is immediately followed by His well-known admonition to “not store up for yourselves treasures on earth… But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” (Matthew 6:19-20)
Three duties: Giving, Praying, Fasting.
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
After being baptized and before beginning His ministry, Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights in the Wilderness. This was followed by Satan’s Temptations. (Matthew 4:1-11) Why did Jesus fast? Could He have faced Satan’s Temptations without having undergone this trial?
As a Tough Issues of Christianity, this blog is different from most of the others in this series. It does not deal with different interpretations of the Bible or denominational differences. This blog deals with personal practices of worship.
Most of us do not fast. That’s a statistical fact.
Examine the questions I posed above. If you so desire, share your thoughts. If you do fast, please share your reasons and experiences! Also, find at least one instance in the Bible where believers in God fasted. What were their circumstances and what was the result. (I’ve already given the most well-known above, but there are many absolutely fascinating examples in both the Old and New Testaments)
I have accepted the challenge of learning more about fasting as an important step in my Christian growth. Note that I have not made a commitment here to undertake fasting… I’ll let you know… SOON!
Will you join me in this learning and growing challenge?
Alive in The Word