Theme: THE UNSEARCHABLE RICHES OF HIS GRACE
Key Text: ” Thus says the Lord of hosts; the fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.” (Zechariah 8:19).
Some may view fasting as an archaic tradition, but it is necessary for Christian living. It is an age-old tradition which many religions practice. It is an act of self-denial we engage in when we want to seek God or seek his favour or blessings. In the Old Testament, the verb “fast” is sometimes coupled with the words “weep,” “mourn,” or “lay in sackcloth,” all expressing intensity. Any person who truly wants to seek God in this age must engage in the discipline of fasting. Fasting should be voluntary, not done under compulsion or as a show-off (Luke.18:12).
REASONS FOR FASTING
We fast for different reasons, these include the following:
The Scripture commands us to fast. The Jews asked Jesus why His disciples did not fast. His response was: “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.” The response of Jesus implies that now that He has been taken away, we should fast.
We fast because Jesus our Master fasted. During His fast He was able to overcome the temptation of the devil. Fasting helps us to be Christ-like. The goal of every Christian should be to be like Christ. If fasting helped Jesus to overcome temptations, then we need to fast so as to confront the daily temptations of life.
The saints of old fasted. Moses fasted when he was invited by God to come and receive the Ten Commandments (Exodus.24:12). He fasted to approach and seek God. He fasted to know the mind of God. Ezra fasted and sought God (Ezra 8:23). Nehemiah prayed and fasted (Nehemiah,1:4). Esther fasted before approaching the King (Esther 4:16).
David fasted. He fasted to repent and show penitence before God. He fasted to see if God would spare the life of the son Uriah’s wife had for him (2 Samuel.12:16,22). He wrote that he humbled his soul through fasting. “…I humbled my soul in fasting” (Psalm 35:13). The lifestyle of these saints of old teach that there is blessing in fasting.
Paul fasted on several occasions. In some cases they were voluntary, in other cases they were imposed on him by the circumstances of the ministry, as during his conversion (Acts 9:9; 2 Corinthians.6:5; 11:27). Thus, we learn from Paul that fasting has spiritual benefits.
Fasting is necessary for spiritual warfare. When it is accompanied with prayer, fasting breaks the power of the forces of darkness. Jesus fasted before he confronted the devil in the wilderness. He came out victorious. If Jesus had succumbed to the temptations of the devil, the destiny of humanity would have been different today. When Daniel fasted for twenty-one days, the prince of Persia opposed him and would not allow him to get the answers to his prayer. But praise God, the angel Michael came to the rescue and Daniel got the victory (Daniel 11).
Fasting brings deliverance and victory to individuals, communities and nations. When the king and the people of Nineveh fasted and prayed, God answered them and delivered the land of Nineveh from judgment (Jonah 3).
Fasting is necessary before vital decisions are made (Acts 13:2,3; 14:23). This is because it gives one the clarity of mind and thought to take decisions. It is for the same reason that some writers would prefer to fast when writing. They receive more inspiration and clarity of ideas to write when fasting than when they eat and drink.
We can see that there are many reasons and benefits of fasting. We hope these reasons will encourage you to participate and conclude this thirty days fast with others.
PRAYER: Father, thank you for the immense benefits of fasting. Strengthen me to be involved in this month–long fast.