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Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Skinny on Fasting

It's been a long week. Let's lighten up a little...

I love these guys!

Dieting? Tech fast? Fasting makes me hungry? The Pharisee?

What about fasting?

The Scripture does not command us to fast. God does not require it of Christians. At the same time, the Bible does present fasting as something that is good, profitable, and valuable. The book of Acts reports believers who fasted before making important decisions (Acts 13:2; 14:23).

All too often, the focus of fasting is on the lack of food. However, the purpose of fasting should be to take your eyes off the things of this world to focus completely on God. Fasting is a way to demonstrate to God, and to ourselves, that we are serious about our relationship with Him. Fasting helps us gain a new perspective and a renewed reliance upon God. It also helps us focus off ourselves and on to those who are much less fortunate than we are. We forget that there are people throughout the world, and in our own neighborhoods and cities, who can’t make a choice about whether they should eat or not; there is no food available to them.

Although fasting in Scripture is almost always a fasting from food, there are other ways to fast, as demonstrated by the techy guy in the video. Anything that we can give up on a temporary basis in order to focus all our attention on God can be considered a fast (1 Corinthians 7:1-5).

Fasting should be limited to a set time, especially when fasting from food. Extended periods of time without eating can be harmful to the body. Fasting is not intended to punish the flesh, but to redirect our attention to God.

Fasting should not be considered a “dieting method.” The function of a biblical fast is not to lose weight, but instead to gain deeper fellowship with God. Anyone can fast, but some may not be able to fast from food (diabetics, for example). Everyone can temporarily give up something in order to draw closer to God.

By taking our eyes off the things of this world, we can be more successful in turning our attention to Christ.

Fasting should not be considered a way to get God to do what we want. Fasting changes us, not God.

Fasting is not a way to look more spiritual than your associates. Fasting is to be done in a spirit of humility and a joyful attitude. Matthew 6:16-18 says, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, 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 men 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.”

Fasting, like many other things in our lives is meant to be a covenantal and special relationship between us and God. We are meant to be changed internally by these actions.

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