by: Roy Fruits, Senior Pastor
As a believer in Jesus, what does it mean to fast?
Fasting for a believer in Jesus Christ is the intentional setting aside of food for a predetermined period of time in order to focus on God and His Word. It can involve the reading of and meditation on the Bible, personal worship, and most important - prayer.
As followers of Jesus, why do we fast?
Various religions as well as some health enthusiasts advocate fasting. However, fasting as a Christ follower is unique. It was commanded in the Old Testament for the Jewish people, taught by Jesus in the New Testament, and practiced by followers of Jesus throughout time.
“And whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance in order to be seen fasting by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face so that you may not be seen fasting by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” Matthew 6:16-18
“And Jesus said to them, ‘the attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.’” Matthew 9:15
“And while they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” Acts 13:2, 3
Fasting involves two key words: dependence and hunger.
- Dependence on God for everything.
- Hunger for God to move in your life, His church, and the World.
In a period of fasting, a follower of Christ temporarily sets aside food resulting in hunger pains This experience reminds the believer that everything, including food, comes as a gift from God. Therefore, dependence on Him for everything is foremost in their mind. Because of what Christ has already done for each of us, there is also a spiritual hunger for God that is even greater than our quest for food. It is a hunger for God to be at work in our life and in our world through the person and work of Christ. He already gained the victory through His life, death, and resurrection. Now we long for His return, and in the meantime, we ask for His will to be made accomplished on earth. Fasting is not done for penitence by a sinner. Fasting is enjoyed by the Christ follower who is forgiven and desiring more of God’s inexhaustible grace!
There is a longing in the heart of every believer to grow deeper in our relationship with Jesus and experience more intimately the victorious Christian life. We want to know Him and make Him known. The discipline of fasting allows a Christ follower to intentionally set aside food and time to be fed spiritually through the Word of Christ and the person of Christ.
Make this verse your goal…
Philippians 3:8 “More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ…”
How do we fast as followers of Jesus?
- Select a specified period of time (most are 1 – 3 days). For longer periods of time, please consult your doctor.
- Forego a meal or meals for the time you have selected, making sure that you stay well-hydrated (water and various juices) and limit physical exertion.
- Spend extended periods of time (example – during times when you would prepare and eat food) in prayer, reading the Bible and personal time of worship. Remember, it is a time to express your dependence on the Lord Jesus and your desire for Him to take more control of your life. You may also seek to intercede in a very specific way on behalf of someone else.
- A prayer guide will be offered when Rockpoint Church sends out a call for fasting and prayer. Otherwise, feel free to use various prayer models such as the ACTS formula listed below.
A - Adoration
Praise God for who He is and what He has done
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” Psalm 150:6
C - Confession
Ask God’s forgiveness for anything that you have done
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
T - Thanksgiving
Thank God for all His blessings in your life
“Giving thanks always an for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20
S - Supplication
Pray for specific requests.
“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6, 7
Do not draw attention to yourself. If it is a personal fast or a small number of friends fasting together for a specific reason, then make sure that you are not purposefully telling others out of pride. Humility should be the attitude that accompanies all fasting. After all, it is not about you but the Lord. Fasting is the laying aside of yourself and your wants in order to focus on Christ.
If you have any health concerns, please consult your doctor before you begin to fast.