What is the purpose behind our decision to fast – what’s our ultimate goal?
According to Isaiah 58, God’s intention for fasting is to loose bonds of wickedness, let the oppressed go free and break every yoke – He wants to do that for us. I think we can all agree we need more spiritual freedom in our lives, our families, our churches, and our cities!
When the people in the Bible fasted, they brought specific requests before the Lord. Many of their goals may be the same for us today.
- Healing for a loved one – In 2 Samuel, David fasted when his child was sick, asking God to spare his life.
Today, many of us battle physical conditions, and sometimes God may deliver us from these problems. And not just about ‘big’ health issues, like surgery, but pesky things we may have decided to accept for the rest of our lives.
- Instructions/Guidance – In Judges 20, the tribes fasted to ask God for direction on how to deal with the rebellious tribe of Benjamin.
Today, everyone faces hard decisions and we need God to show us the right path. We need His help in making wise choices in all aspects of life.
- Help in a troubling situation – Nehemiah asked God to rebuild his home city and Ezra asked God to lead and protect the people on a long journey.
Today we’re faced with all sorts of hardship. Financial struggles, difficult coworkers/managers, sudden job loss, a prodigal child, health problems, addictions, accidents, etc.
- Safety from harm – Both King Jehosephat and Queen Esther fasted when their people were being threatened with physical attack.
Today we may not have some of the same threats, but there are times we may need physical safety, such as natural disasters, or missionaries who travel to unfriendly countries.
- Repentance/ turning from sin – The Ninevites when Jonah confronted them, King Ahab when the prophet confronted him, and many more.
Today, when we struggle with a besetting sin or stronghold in our flesh, we can fast to show God our determination to let go and do better. Fasting chastens us, helping us change direction.
Those are just a few examples of problems we may need to lay at the throne when we fast. But let me just quickly point out that fasting is not dieting.
Lisa Bevere says “Dieting changes the way we look. Fasting changes the way we see.” Many women have skipped meals to lose weight. Nowadays, many health experts are suggesting fasting for health purposes, and there are huge physical benefits when we regularly skip a few meals. But in the Bible, losing weight was not a consideration, and that can’t be our goal either.
Our goal is to seek God, humble ourselves, and worship Him so that He might be glorified in our life by answering our request.
While we’re fasting, we must be careful to keep a humble approach. Humble means “having a feeling of inferiority or subservience, low in importance or status, or courteously respectful.” During a fast, we are purposely making ourselves weak before the Lord, symbolizing that He is ruler on High and we’re His servants who cannot succeed without Him.
Fasting is an outward act of humility that shows an inward attitude of desperation.
God is supreme, only He can fix our problem, and we’re desperate for His intervention.
Our attitude is of utmost importance as we practice this discipline. We submit to His sovereignty, accepting His ways and His timing. We may see little miracles, or one giant miracle, and we need to be okay with how He chooses to answer. Fasting is more about connecting with God than Him fixing our problem.
Next week we’ll delve more deeply into motives of the heart.
What major problem do you need help with, that only God Himself is powerful enough to handle? What are you desperate for God to do in your life?
We’re organizing a corporate fast beginning January 11th! For more information, click here: 21-Day Group Fast.
And check out the Facebook Group!
For more blog posts on fasting: