Fasting? Fasting. Fasting! So often we have questions, comments and emotions about fasting. There are so many types of fasts and it is no question that fasting is biblical and is a spiritual discipline (Matthew 6:16-18 – Not “if,” but “when ye fast …”). There have been times when I was overwhelmed by trying to keep up with the foods that I was to be fasting from, that I almost missed the spiritual growth that was to take place during the fast. I almost missed the ministry God was doing within me!
I could do a long teaching on fasting, but the purpose of my blog this week is for you to ask yourself some questions about why you fast. I asked someone recently the question “why do you fast?” The answer I got was “I fast to lose weight.” My initial reaction was “wow, how non-spiritual was that!” But I got an honest answer to my question. Her response made me ask myself some questions. When I fast, do I lose “weight” (those things that spiritually or emotionally weigh me down) or do I only lose “pounds?” When I finish a fast, am I hungry only for food or am I hungry for more of God?
You may be asking yourself, “What does fasting have to do with spiritual anemia?” Remember that spiritual anemia happens when you become be too busy, too overwhelmed, too tired, too religious, or too “trying to keep up” in order to spend quality time with God. Bottom line is that other things get in the way of your critical and necessary spiritual nourishment.
But what happens when you do those things that are supposed to bring spiritual nourishment, but you do not feel spiritually refreshed when you are done? What has happened when you fast and you realize that all you did was lose pounds but the weight is still there!
How can this happen? My answer goes back to the reason we become spiritually anemic – too busy, too overwhelmed, too tired, too religious, or too “trying to keep up.”
You see, what I have learned is that even when I do those spiritual disciplines that are to bring me close to God, if I do them with a “busyness” mindset, then what exactly will be accomplished? When I fast, if I only fast and do not take the time to pray and study God’s word during the fast, then will I get the breakthrough that God intends for me to have? Do you get supernatural breakthroughs as a result of your fast or are you so busy during the fast that you are only doing the mechanics of fasting (i.e.: not eating or whatever you are fasting from)? During your fast, do you pray? Do you seek God? Do you study His word? Or are you so busy during a fast that you get no spiritual breakthrough and the only thing that happens is you lose a few pounds?
I realize that life and your daily routines do not stop because you are fasting. But when you are committed to prayer and study during a fast, then you can experience a revival within, guidance, resolution for a problem, or the strength to handle a difficult situation.
What is the TEACHing Moment? I learned that when I fast, I can’t be so busy that I don’t pray and spend quality time with God. Fasting is more than a mechanical process of not eating certain foods. The combination of fasting, prayer, and study of the Word is powerful.
My last fast was more than just an exercise of my being able to not eat meat or sweets. It was an experience of denying my flesh. It was an experience of obedience. It was an experience of continuous praying without ceasing. It was an experience of deeper study and meditation time. What was the outcome? There was a spiritual breakthrough in my life! God released me from something I had been dealing with for some time. I have learned that fasting (just not eating) in itself is of no spiritual value (Jeremiah 14:12; I Corinthians 8:8) – “that which is of the flesh is flesh,” (John 3:6). But when I fast to seek God it is the attitude of my heart sincerely seeking Him to which God responds with blessing. When I fast, pray, study, and seek God with my whole heart, I can experience a mighty spiritual deliverance! I lost weight!
Reflect on the last time you fasted – Did you lose “weight” or did you just lose pounds?
To further study fasting, I recommend you read the text A Hunger for God by John Piper.