Friday, July 23, 2010

Why Do We Fast?

Excellent words and insight from Hubby on fasting! I'm exhorted.

I am fasting today, and it’s helpful to know others have joined me in this commitment. I don’t like fasting; it isn’t easy, and I’m not always successful in my attempts, so I really appreciate your willingness to make such a sacrifice.

That being said, "Why are we doing this? What does it accomplish?" We can fast just because the bible says to, and accept by faith there are some intangible spiritual benefits, but that doesn’t motivate me much. The bible does give us some clues that I hope will encourage you.

As we look at a few verses, keep in mind the bible links fasting with prayer. It is assumed that both are working together in these passages.

Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?" And Jesus said to them, "Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. (Mat 9:14-15)

Jesus equates fasting with mourning, and specifically mourning His absence.

Fasting expresses our longing for Jesus just rule in the earth, our lamentation over sin and darkness that oppresses His creation.

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus said, “blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

When we pray with fasting, we’re partnering with Jesus, the great intercessor, who continually makes intercession for us. (Rom 8:34, Heb 7:25) We enter into mourning over the things that concern Him, and receive the comfort of intimacy with Him.

Contrast this attitude with the one we see in the world, both before God judged the earth with a flood, and again before His second coming to judge the earth again.

But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Mat 24:37-39)

In the last days the world will be satisfying their physical desires, unaware of what’s coming, but the church will be fasting and praying “come Lord Jesus,” longing for Christ’s righteous reign.

Fasting is a cry for justice.

In John chapter four, where Jesus meets the woman at the well, He tells His disciples His “food” is to do God’s will and finish the work. He was choosing to focus on the eternal over the merely earthly.

For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Rom 14:17) When we fast, we’re voluntarily choosing the surpassing pleasures of the Kingdom.

Fasting is a cry for the manifestation of the Kingdom.

Above all, returning to the first passage we read:

Fasting is a cry for the presence of Jesus, longing for the one we love!

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