Saturday, February 16, 2013

Five Bible Verses on Fasting

Jesus himself fasted for fourty days and fourty nights while he was tempted by Satan. Luke 4:2 says "For forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry." In Exodus we see that Moses spent fourty days and fourty nights with God on the mountain pounding the words of the ten commandments into stone.

In Joel we see "Yet even now," declares the Lord , "return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning." Fasting was seen as a way to show obedience to God, and it was also a way to increase hunger for spiritual things. When we are constantly satisfied with worldly things, our need for connection with God through Christ diminishes. Here are five Bible passages on fasting to study.

1. Matthew 6:18 That your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

This passage in Matthew tells us just as we ought not to be boastful about our praying, we should not tell others that we are fasting. This passage does not necessarily mean that we should have solitude while fasting, but that is certainly an option. Another way this passage is put is to not have an upset look on your face while fasting. This let's people know that you're fasting, which God does not want. We see in this verse that God the father will reward us for our fast.

2. Esther 4:16"Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish."

This passage in Esther shows that holding a public fast is an act of obedience to God. The passage of three days and nights is also mentioned. In the Bible the passage of three days and nights is usually the amount of time before a truth is revealed. In the case of Jesus on the third day he was resurrected. Esther made this request of Mordecai as an offering to God before she went to the king on behalf of the church. She was satisfied with this offering.

3. Ezra 8:23 So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.

This passage in Ezra mentions fasting as well as prayer, which the two are often combined for the best effect. The second part of the passage demonstrates how God then listened to the prayers and answered them favorably. Fasting is a great way to add weight to prayers. It lets God know you are faithful and obedient to his will. It lets him know that food and pleasure is second to his will.

4. Daniel 10:1-3 >In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a word was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. And the word was true, and it was a great conflict. And he understood the word and had understanding of the vision. In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks.

In Daniel we see that fasting is useful form of mourning of loss. He fasted for three weeks. This could be dangerous practically. I recommend fasting for no longer than 48 hours. I once fasted for 72 hours and I could barely move at the end of the 3rd day. This was a no-food fast, though I allowed myself water. This is the type of fast I recommend. A no food or water fast is also a possibility, but I don't recommend more than 24 hours.

5. 2 Samuel 12:16 David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground.

We know from scripture that David fasted often when troubled or seeking redemption. In this passage we see that David fasted on the behalf of another. In addition to fasting he also deprived himself of company or even lodging. He sat on the ground all night. We can probably assume that David prayed, talked to God, and even sang to him. Fasting and meditating is a great way to find lost spirituality. If you find that you don't have the same strong desire for building your faith, this is a dangerous time. Immediately pray and fast, and ask God to restore your hunger for him. He will surely answer!