Hearing His Voice Today
Fasting and the Christian
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Matthew 6:16-18 (KJV)
- Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure
their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
- But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
- That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy
Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
Fasting and the Christian
Fasting from food has become popular with people who have no interest in the things of
Fasting means in Hebrew "to cover one's mouth." The idea is to abstain from eating food.
But what does the Bible say about Christians and fasting?
- It has been used as a form of protest.
- It has been identified as a powerful tool for health and longevity.
Institute for Better Health devotes an entire web page on the benefits of fasting.
Dr. Herbert Shelton's book "Fasting Can Save Your Life" has sold 750,000 copies.
- It has been used by religions worldwide as a means of imitation and devotion.
Arabs --- Ramadan; Catholics --- Lent and Fridays; Buddhists ---
- The Place of Fasting in the Believer's Life . . .
- It is assumed by Jesus that His followers would fast . . . "but when ye
Jesus also said his followers would fast, "when He departed." (Matthew 9:14-15).
- It was associated with Old Testament Israel and early Christianity . . .
Moses fasted on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 34:28), and Hannah fasted while praying for a son (I Samuel
1:7). David fasted on several occasions (II Samuel 1:12; 12:23). Israel fasted once a year on the
day of atonement (Leviticus 23:27). Jesus fasted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:2), and Anna
fasted while she served God in the Temple (Luke 2:37). Paul fasted after his conversion (Acts
9:9) and the entire church in Antioch fasted before commissioning Barnabas and Saul (Acts
- It is generally accepted that the Bible is silent as to the particulars of
There are no requirements as to the length . . . it could be "short periods" (I
Cor. 7:5), twice a week (Luke 18:12), two weeks (Acts 27:33), 40 days, or other time
There are no requirements as to the manner . . . (Abstain from water and certain
foods?) It is dangerous when the church goes further than the Bible in man's duty to God.
- The Purpose of Fasting in the Believer's Life . . .
- It is not for the purpose of obtaining God's favor or blessing . . .
This false belief is always a danger in any of the disciplines of the Christian life.
- It is for the purpose of strengthening your spiritual life . . .
Fasting is a means by which you strengthen yourself during times of spiritual conflict.
In each of these instances, fasting is an expression of total dependence on God.
- During times of difficult circumstances (Matthew 17:15-21).
- During times of distress over sin (Daniel 10).
- During times of imminent danger (I Kings 21:27-29).
- During times of disease in others (Psalm 35:13).
- During times of dedication (Acts 13:3; Matt. 4:2).
A number of the texts above contain the phrase "he humbled himself before God."
- The Problem of Fasting in the Believer's Life . . .
- There is a temptation to want others to know . . .
Jesus instructions are quite simple --- "Be natural during periods of fasting."
- When you fast as a show of spirituality to others, there is a reward.
The reward is the recognition you receive by men --- that's all.
- When you fast in secret, depending upon the Lord, He rewards you openly.