Looking at our church today, many people have neglected the importance of fasting. Because of easy life styles, doctors reports, the grace message, which has virally gone to the extreme. Should we fast? Is fasting a necessity in our Christian faith? Did fasting ended with old testament or did fasting continued in new testament by the apostles? Is fasting a commandment or an expectation? Is there any difference between fasting to God for His blessings and fasting as physical exercise to reduce body weight?
In answering these questions, let’s begin by confirming if we suppose to fast. Matthew. 6. 17 -18- But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Jesus seemed to assume that people suppose to fast, and since it’s already established system of worship that people are already practicing, Jesus was teaching them the proper way to fast so that they will receive the blessings from God.
Fasting simply means the act of refraining from food, drink or both, for a defined period of time either for religious reason such as receiving anything from God or for physical exercise such as body weight reduction or change of diet or any other reasons, but the goal is to achieve a designed result. Let’s talk about fasting as a religious discipline with the focus of the need for contemporary Christians to fast and fast to God. From the sermon Jesus gave, He encouraged fasting and gave the right way to fast. Jesus said that God will reward you, that means there’s a reward for right fasting and Jesus said when you fast, which means anytime you fast. Many religious groups such as Muslim, Confucius, Hindus, Yoga and great men who had impacted the world, placed a high value on fasting. The Jews fast on the tenth day call Ashurah, the Muslim fast for 29-30 days called Ramadan, Confucius believed that there’s no purity without fasting and Yoga believed that one cannot attain a spiritual self control without fasting.
From the world history it was recorded that French in 1756threatened to invade Britain, king of Britain called for a day of solemn prayer which averted the French threat. Queen Esther and all the Jews also fasted and the threat that supposed to take all their lives was averted. Though Fasting is not a commandment in the Bible, but we cannot undermine it’s important as a discipline for spiritual growth and one of the means we receive blessings and protection from God, though the extreme Grace messages negatively impacted on fasting, but Jesus who brought Grace, started with fasting and established that His disciples which the contemporary christians are part of, will surely fast as at when needed till He comes. Mark. 2. 20 – But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days. Jesus affirmed in this scriptural passage that His disciples will surely fast until His return in Gory.
Fasting have many physical and spiritual benefits, for the body and soul, when observed properly. The physical benefits of fasting are clear that a good health and fitness expect will recommend it for anyone who want to clear poisonous substances which kill those with unwise habit of excess eating and drinking prematurely, it clears away the thousand little poisons which quickly clog the organs, systems and muscles and diseases. It helps to reduce weight, burn toxins, clear the lungs and kidney from polluted air and indigestible concoctions that people consume always. Fasting helps one to have control over eating and drinking habits for healthy and long life.
As Christians, fasting is very important for our spiritual discipline, with fasting a christian will be able to deal with besetting sins, such as anger, sexual immorality, jealousy, envy, malice, rebellion, lust, and many others. It’s normally when one is fasting and seeking God in prayer that these hidden sins shows up. With everyday busy work schedule and feeding every appetite, one doesn’t easily discover these sinful nature, especially ego and anger. God speaks mostly when one give Him attention by denying oneself of certain things that occupy the thoughts and time unnecessarily. Most times spiritual growth is faster through fasting and spiritual gifts manifest more in times of fast.
Acts. 13. 2 – 3 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. ” Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away. In fasting, the motives behind it matters a lot. The focus of fasting is to worship God with the self denial and focus on God to commune together with Him. He in turn will cleans, empower, instruct, equip and direct us. Amazing answers testimonies and rewards lies in fasting to God. As they were worshipping and fasting, Holy Spirit spoke to them. We lack direct instruction from HolySpirit because of our fleshly desires we cannot let go and fast to God. Most of our churches today are more ceremonial than spiritual. Why should Jesus and Apostles fast and we the modern day christians neglect fasting?
Prominent people like King David, Queen Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Jesus our Lord, all the disciples fasted before they could work in great anointing and power of Holy Spirit, they fasted with their busy schedule and God rewarded them all and they accomplished great things. Fasting helps us to work in the anointing and power of Holy Spirit. If fasting was necessary to them, then it is necessary today. Contemporary Christians have to take up the cross and follow the course of salvation. Let’s do it as Jesus and the Apostles did it, for only through going back to the root, we can attain the hight Jesus expects from us.
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