A Discipline That Will Change Our Lives

The Word of God speaks often on the subject of fasting, but it is one of the issues that we do not pay attention to. “Fasting” literally means to abstain from food.

God’s people fasted many times in the Old Testament, with the right attitudes and motivation. But, when and why did people fast? The Old Testament tells us … “ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute forever” Leviticus 16:29-31 and Leviticus 23:27-32 (KJV).

Moses was fasting before God when he received the Ten Commandments. He was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water, and wrote on the tables the words of the covenant Exodus 34:28. Also he fasted in favor of Israel for their sins and their idolatry. Deuteronomy 9:18 and 1 Samuel 1:6. Not only did Moses practice fasting but Israel did as well. Nehemiah 9:1-2

Daniel, the prophet and faithful servant … fasted! Daniel 9:3-6. Joel proclaimed fasting in Joel 1:14 and Joel 2:12-13. King Jehoshaphat of Judah fasted to seek the help of God 2 Chronicles 20:1-4. Ezra fasted asking God for protection on his journey from Babylon to Jerusalem, Ezra 8:21-23. Nehemiah fasted in his grief and prayer for God’s help, Nehemiah 1:1-4. These are just some examples.

In the New Testament Jesus never sent his people to fast. But He did. Jesus is the best example. In Jesus’ time the Jews were familiar with fasting. Jesus told them: “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others 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.” Matthew 6:16-18.

A no no. “I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” Luke 18:12 (KJV)

Paul fasted while praying to God, repenting for the sins he had committed against Christ. The prophet Anna never left the temple but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer, Luke 2:36-37. God’s people fasted to send Barnabas and Saul to preach the gospel, Acts 13:1-3 and for newly appointed elders in every church. They commended them to the Lord on whom they believed, Acts 14:23

Some people teach that Jesus condemned fasting. The Sermon on the Mount is basically an exhibition of righteousness Matthew 5-7, Mt. 5:20. Jesus condemned the Pharisees not for fasting, but by their lack of sincerity, Mt. 6: 16. In fact, Jesus recognized the fast in situations of distress, Matthew 9:14-18. The strong words of Jesus “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” Matthew 17.21 (KJV)

If we live this message, God will help us focus our lives on Christ and not only that, but the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit will be manifested in everything we do to glorify God and His kingdom.

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McKinney at Cardinal

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