S12 "Yet even now," declares the LORD, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13 and rend your hearts and not your garments." Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. - Joel 2:12-13
Fasting is a spiritual discipline that many people, including Christians, don’t understand. As I’ve participated in a congregational fast this weekend, it’s heightened my awareness of the misunderstandings people have about fasting.
Fasting is a choice to abstain from food for a set period of time to heighten our hunger for God. Let’s be real, we don’t hunger for God most days, not like we hunger for our next meal. Many of us don’t have any problem skipping our spiritual nourishment any given day, but we’d never miss a meal. The spiritual discipline of fasting elevates the priority of God in our lives because it makes the conscious choice to deny ourselves food so that we can focus our attention on Him. Fasting reminds us where our strength comes from because it weakens our physical bodies, and turns our attention to Him. Fasting brings a clarity to our thinking and our prayer time with the Lord that we just cannot achieve any other way. It not only clarifies our prayers, but it gives us the eyes and ears to hear and see His answers. We are drawn closer to Him, and the things that have been interfering with our ability to sense His presence are removed, and we hear Him more clearly.
Why do we fast? First and foremost because God calls us to fast multiple times in scripture.m, so fasting is an act of obedience and submission to our King. Isaiah 58 includes a full description of the purpose of fasting, but it appears throughout His Word. Here in these verses, fasting is the avenue through which God calls us to return our hearts to Him. Fasting reveals sinful patterns in our lives, giving us an opportunity to repent of our sin. As we bring our sin before the Lord, He can break those patterns and change our hearts forever.
We are also told to fast when we carry a heavy burden. Perhaps your heart is heavy for an unsaved loved one or you are walking through an incredibly difficult trial. Multiple times in scripture we are told to fast and pray when we our hearts are aching to see an answered prayer. Fasting and praying can break the foothold the enemy has in our lives by revealing our strongholds, and it can release our loved ones from oppression.
We are instructed to fast for many other reasons in scripture - when we need direction or guidance, when we need to be spiritually restored to Him, when we want to give to others, when we are feeling spiritually oppressed, or we need a revival. There are many reasons given for fasting in Scripture, but one thing is for sure - we are called to the spiritual discipline of fasting as believers in Christ.
Fasting can be scary the first time. 24 hours is a long time to go without food, and if you’ve never done it, you may think it’s not possible. It is possible, when you rely on Him to bring you through. If you have never fasted, consider asking God to reveal to you when you should fast, and how you may be set free by taking this bold step for Him.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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