Why don’t more churches encourage the discipline of fasting?
This was one of the pressing questions I asked myself when I first began studying Biblical fasting.
If it’s really important, why aren’t more people talking about it, or practicing it?
As I pondered the potential reasons, I reached out to some trusted Christians to get their opinion, and this is what I came up with:
- Maybe it’s because Christians assume it’s old-fashioned and no longer necessary for the church today. And yet, I’ve heard stories and experienced for myself the power of God as a result of a fast. People in both the old and new testaments fasted – including Jesus and the early Church – so there is no reason for this discipline to be ignored in today’s culture.
- Maybe Christians believe that only leaders or super-spiritual types need to fast. Yet the scripture doesn’t teach that at all. For example, Israel’s fast during Yom Kipper, the day of Atonement. Groups of believers fasted together many times in the Bible, so it’s clearly for every ‘ordinary’ person, not just pastors and teachers. (See my previous posts on why people fasted in the Bible.)
- Maybe Christians consider it such a private matter that it doesn’t need to be discussed publicly, because after all, Jesus did tell us to fast in secret (Matt 6:16-18). Leaders assume their flocks will figure it out on their own, without guidance. Yet Jesus didn’t say to never talk about fasting or never tell others when we do fast – He said not to make a big deal about it and draw attention to ourselves.
My suggestion? More than likely, believers were never taught why fasting is important, how it releases the power of God like no other Christian discipline, how it develops an intimacy with God like nothing else can.
Churches don’t intentionally neglect it. Simply put, it just never comes to mind.
Fasting wasn’t really discussed in my church as a child, though I did see my dad fast a couple times. But as I dug deeper into this topic, I read so many amazing stories of prodigal children who returned home, healing from all kinds of physical ailments, jobs or promotions opening up, family members being saved – all as a result of seeking God through fasting. I could not help but cry and rejoice over each story.
Don’t we all want to experience these kinds of miracles?
When believers get together, we talk about love, service, giving, prayer, the fruit of the spirit, the armor of God, holding tight to our faith during storms – so many important truths in the life of a follower of Christ.
How strange that fasting is rarely discussed among Christians in the Church today.
After all, many revivals were started with men who sought God through fasting and prayer. Throughout history, great men like Martin Luther, John Wesley, and John Calvin all practiced fasting. Jonathan Edwards, Andrew Murray, CS Lewis and Dietrich Bonhoffer all mentioned it in their writings.
God never meant for fasting to become a forgotten discipline.
Yes, ladies, fasting still matters.
God has more for us.
What many people don’t realize is that Jesus said “When you fast…”
Not “If you fast…”
Matthew 6:16-18 “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.“
My fear is that the biggest reason people today rarely make fasting a priority is because the enemy has distracted us. Satan knows the power God will release when believers humble themselves in a fast, and he wants to prevent that. He’ll do just about anything so keep us from getting serious with God.
He will convince us that fasting is old fashioned, that only leaders need to do it, that we’re not supposed to talk about it openly.
Ladies, let’s change the trend!
Let’s make fasting a priority and see how God responds! Let’s hunger for righteousness and humble ourselves before Him like never before. And let’s teach our families about it, as well. We can’t keep silent any longer.
Next week, I’m going to be brave and share some of my personal experiences with fasting. I’ve previously discussed why people fast and the benefits of fasting. Coming soon, I’ll also discuss proper attitudes and the different types of fasting options.
Want to join in our group fast in January? Here’s more information: 21-Day group fast