Matthew 6: 16-18
Most people have a negative attitude toward fasting, which is understandable since fasting is about abstaining from something we otherwise enjoy. I submit that the reason that people fast infrequently is because we think of fasting mainly as what we’re going without rather than what we’re getting. Yet, the question of whether or not to fast wasn’t an issue with Jesus, for He stated clearly in Matthew 6, “When you fast...” He later promised the disciples in Matthew 9:15 that they would fast. When we fast, we exchange what we need to survive for what we need to live, which is more of God.
Here are five spiritual benefits to fasting:
Our souls are cleansed. We can’t forget that our bodies are the temple of the Lord. Without the toxins that we put into our bodies, we not only give our bodies a break from the digestive process, but we also allow our spirits to be detoxed. In the process, our souls are made new so we can receive fresh empowerment from Holy Spirit to live for Christ in a fresh way.
We gain a new desire for God. When we realize that we need God more than we need food, we understand more clearly what the Psalmist meant when he wrote, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, my God.” (Psalm 42:1) God wants a closer connection with us; through fasting, we can quench that new desire for more of Him in our lives.
We experience a deeper praise. Since we are not consumed with what we’re going to eat next and when, we have more energy to devote to God. As we spend more time concentrating on who He is, on His character and attributes, as well as what He’s done for us, praise erupts in our souls. Once we get caught up in our desire for God and our praise for His mighty acts, we won’t have time to be hungry or count down the hours until our fast is over.
We have a sensitivity to God’s voice. In Luke 2:36-38, we see that because Anna regularly fasted and prayed, she was able to recognize the promised Messiah the day that baby Jesus was brought to the temple to be dedicated. As a result, she told everyone who would listen about Him. When we detox the spirit and become consumed with desire and praise for God, we become sensitive to His voice and know exactly what He wants us to do.
We obtain a new satisfaction. Jesus told His disciples in John 4:34, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work.” Physical food never fully satisfies; in a few hours, we’ll need to eat again. But when we are fed from doing the work of the Lord, we will find a new satisfaction like we’ve never experienced before.
Application: Ed has often said, “Our attitude determines our altitude.” I challenge you to approach this fast with an expression of your emptiness, longing to be filled by Him, rather than a declaration of your own strength or willpower.
Prayer: Lord, help me to demonstrate, through this fast, the attitude of John the Baptist: I must decrease so that You (Christ) may increase.