Why Fast? 3 Powerful Reasons

Robby Bradford31 Days, Bible studies, Christianity, Church life, discipleship, fast, fasting, First Assembly Community Ministries, grow, Jesus Christ, miracles, prayer, spiritual growfth, spirituality, worship2 Comments

Here is #28 of 31 Questions in 31 Days! To learn more about this 31 Day series, just search “31 Questions” in the search bar above or click here!

Q #28:  I’ve heard you talk about fasting as an important spiritual discipline in the life of a believer.  I’ve never done it.  Why should I do it?

A:  This is a timely question, as the church I have the privilege to serve will be going on a 21 day fasting journey beginning on February 15.  

For me, there are three compelling reasons to fast:
  1. Fasting is biblical.  Throughout the Bible, fasting is one of the major steps people take in trying to grow closer to God.  This 21-day period of fasting is just such a step. Along with Daniel, Jesus, and others, we’re going to break our regular patterns and habits in an effort to hear from God and experience him.  
  2. Fasting is spiritually effective.  In the gospels we find a story where the disciples were trying to cast out a demon and couldn’t.  Jesus told them, “But this kind does not go out, except by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21, NASB)  Fasting is understood in the Bible as a way of adding urgency, intensity and 3-dimensional clarity to prayer. We’re encouraging our congregation to take just such a bolder, louder step in seeking God to speak and to answer us.
  3. Fasting brings us into focus.  Fasting is one step you can take that will help you become clear and focus better on God.  Physical hunger or breaking a long-held and powerful habit has a way of helping us see more clearly how we have grown distant from God.  Fasting has the wonderful capacity of cleansing us of distraction and pointing us regularly to prayer.  When I am hungry or distracted by a gnawing desire to do what I would normally be doing, I find that I am driven to more intense, bold prayers.

This coming Sunday at First Assembly Community Ministries, we will be changing the regular format for our service to accommodate questions from the congregation!  I can’t wait.  Join us there on Sunday, February 1 for a morning of discovery on what we call Q Sunday for two unique services 9 and 11 AM.

2 Comments on “Why Fast? 3 Powerful Reasons”

  1. Interesting. This is something I thought a lot about a few years ago and developed a similar list. I don't remember all of it now, but two things I do remember that might be worth sharing —

    Fasting is a way that we associate with death – which maybe sounds morbid, but I'm not sure how else to put it. There is no more obvious symbol of life and attachment to life than food (in nature, animals spend virtually all of their energy finding food), so to suddenly cut oneself off from food is a very real way of dis-associating with the physical world – to "take up one's cross" and "die" daily.

    I think, also, that fasting is a way that we learn how to deal with temptation. Because the "temptation" to eat is very powerful, and yet to break a fast is not sinful – it's a great combination of learning to fight against powerful temptation without the threat of actual sin when we fail. Of course, Paul warns us not to make too much of asceticism, so I wouldn't push the point too far.

    And of course, fasting is a natural reaction when we're mourning. That's certainly the original idea behind it, no? That someone in mourning has no appetite, hence, doesn't eat. And like most things associated with mourning, fasting has taken on a ritual aspect.

    For my own part – I have struggled a great deal with fasting. I find that going long periods without food makes me more edgy and grumpy, rather than spiritual or humble. Looking at myself, I'm reminded of the message given through Isaiah – "is this the kind of fast I have chosen," etc. And, again, as Paul wrote: Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their …false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

    All this to say – remember me in your prayers Robby. Peace be with you and your family always.

  2. I really appreciate your thoughts here, Jason. Regardless of what fasting does to you, you would be hard pressed not to recognize that Jesus assumes godly people will do it, the scriptures commend it in numerous places as a path to repentance, and there are numerous ways to fast. It doesn't have to kill you or make you grumpy or unspiritual. If anything, I find that I do well to recognize and confess my weaknesses to God when I'm fasting, as I have the same struggles…prayers are with you. Please say HELLO next time you're at church, my thougtful friend!

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