Look, if you’re looking for a post about Lent, this isn’t the one. I don’t participate in Lent. I’m not bashing anyone who does, it’s just not for me. Why? Well, my friend, Rosilind Jukic wrote an amazing post about why she doesn’t observe Lent and I couldn’t agree with it more.
While I don’t observe Lent, I do wholeheartedly believe in fasting.
Here’s one big way that Lent is different from Biblical fasting; During Lent, the fast is used as a reminder of the pain and suffering that Christ went through. Biblical fasting is meant to be a sacrificial element to gain a closer relationship with Christ by denying the needs of the flesh in efforts to fulfill the needs of the spirit.
So should Christians fast? Absolutely.
Simply put, to fast is to voluntarily abstain from food, actions, or things, usually for religious purposes.
I know that there are a lot of people that no longer believe in fasting. There are even some preachers that stand behind pulpits and say that fasting is not needed. I completely disagree. Fasting is an important and essential practice to the effective Christian’s life.
Fasting is talked about a lot in both the Old and New Testaments. In many instances, it’s not even labeled as an option, but almost as a command. Here are a few important scriptures that tell us about fasting and easily answer the question of “Should Christians fast?”
“But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.” Luke 5:35
Here, the Pharisees are asking Jesus why His disciples are not fasting. In the fullness of the scripture, Christ answers them in a sort of parable and then says that when He is taken away, they will. This is not a question as to if they will fast, He says they will. Christ is still in Heaven and we must still follow this command.
“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.” Matthew 6:16
Here, Jesus makes a very important point. He doesn’t say if you fast, He says when you fast. Again, we see that we are in fact instructed to fast. Furthermore, Christ gives us instruction on how to fast, and the answer again is very simple; in secret.
“Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” Isaiah 58:3-7
Why do we fast? Isaiah tells us plainly “to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke”. In another scripture, we find where Paul fasted all day and through the night even while he spent in prayer for the healing of a young boy (2 Samuel 12).
First, we can deal with the more traditional method of fasting, the fasting of food.
There is no better way to deny the flesh’s desires than to suppress the appetite’s needs. When you don’t feed something, it begins to die. When you fast, your physical body becomes weak and has the opportunity to focus all of its attention to spiritual growth.
Fasting gives us a great opportunity to rely fully and completely on God. This, coupled with prayer is one of the Christian’s most powerful tools to reach The Father. Think about 2 Chronicles 7; If my people humble themselves, then will I forgive their sins and heal their land. The most humbling of actions is denying your body what it needs to survive.
Next, we can talk about the fasting of the mind.
The mind is what determines our actions. What we fill our minds with daily will influence how we respond to things, how we react to situations, and how we resolve to make decisions. Have you ever got down to pray and couldn’t clear your mind of worldly things to focus on God?
This is a prime example of why we should fast the mind. Turn off the television, put down the devices, give your mind a rest from the chaos of earthly matters. But don’t just sit within your own thoughts. Take this time to think about the goodness of Christ, sing praises unto Him, read your Bible and ponder on scripture.
Our 50 Biblical Affirmations are a good way to train your mind to think on Christ daily. These scriptures turned affirmations are a great option to fill your mind with His goodness, grace, and mercy to give you an exciting expectancy while fighting through the world’s mundane.
Finally, the fasting of (for lack of a better term) things.
Sometimes, there are things that aren’t necessarily bad, but they take up much of our time, and in turn, take away from Christ. There have been many times where I have taken a break from blogging or social media, giving it up for periods of time in order to cultivate a closer relationship with Christ.
I would find myself scrolling through Facebook instead of being in my prayer time. Times where I could have been reading my Bible but got sucked into Instagram. Or when I felt the call to blog was more overwhelming than the call to prayer. I never want to be in that position.
Even when I’m doing a work for the Lord, I can’t allow that to overshadow the personal time that I spend with Him and being inspired by what He has for me each day. By denying the wants of my flesh, I am putting it under subjection to the will and ways of Christ.
Matthew 17 tells the story of when the disciples could not deliver a man possessed by the devil. But when Jesus arrived, He commanded the spirit to leave and the man was freed. Curious, the disciples asked why they couldn’t do the same.
He responded, “This kind goes not out but by prayer and fasting.” There is a lost and a dying world out there that needs help from The Savior. I desperately want to be used of God, and to be ready I need to have this flesh under subjection and be humble to The Father’s call.
I surrender to God, I humble myself, I commit this body to Him through prayer and fasting.
If you’re still looking for more information about “Should Christians Fast”? I suggest watching this video by one of the greatest preachers, B.H. Clendennen. Despite its age, his message on fasting is timeless and crucial in this age. The Ultimate Weapon: Fasting by B.H. Clendennen.