What about fasting?

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Question:

What about fasting?

Answer:

In Jesus’ time, the religious leaders were always trying to show how very religious they were, by praying loudly on street corners, and showing how distressed they were while fasting. This is what Jesus had to say.

Matthew 6     16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”

We always seem to think that fasting, when we are praying for something specific, is like twisting God’s arm to give us what we want. But fasting is more to show that we are serious, that what we are praying about is worth more than food. We want to be in God’s will, and we show our willingness to be where God wants us to be, by going without something that we enjoy. It is usually food, but it could be fasting for media, staying away from telephones, TV, computers and movies for a time, spending it rather with God. The Israelites loved to fast, as they thought that it gave them brownie points with God, but they missed the point. Look at what God said to them.

Isaiah 58      1 “Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. 2 Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God.

They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching God.
3 ‘ Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?
“In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exploit all your laborers.
4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate, and to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You will not fast as you do this day, to make your voice heard on high.
5 Is it a fast that I have chosen, a day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?
6 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see them naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;

God sees fasting as being right with Him, loving and helping those around you, especially those in need or in trouble. To have concern for those who are in need, and doing something about it, counts more with God than going without food. Our Christianity should not just be a name, but a way of living, a reflection of God’s character to all around us.

I trust that this makes sense. God bless!

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Matthew 6:16

“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

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