Jesus Teaches about Fasting

Fasting

FASTING:

This last act of worship, fasting, is a little bit different than the other’s we’ve talked about: giving or praying. God wants you give and He wants you to pray. Those are commands. But you know what, I don’t think God really cares if you fast or not. What he wants is your complete devotion. And at times, that devotion may be so focused that you don’t care about eating. And that honors God—not because you went hungry, but because you evidently cared so much about him that food—something you need to survive—was just not that important to you.

Matthew 6:16-18 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,

so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 

Jesus’ statement when you fast (cf. Matt. 6:16) indicates that fasting is normal and acceptable in the Christian life. He assumes His followers will fast on certain occasions, but He does not give a command or specify a particular time, place, or method. Because the validity of the Day of Atonement ceased when Jesus made the once-for-all sacrifice on the cross (Heb. 10:10), the single prescribed occasion for fasting has ceased to exist.

God is not so much interested in our fast as much as He is interested in us obeying His word. Through the prophets, God told the people of Israel that he wasn’t at all interested in their fasting if they didn’t bother to obey him. The way they treated the poor, the way they massacred justice—these actions spoke much louder about their spiritual devotion to God than their repeated days of fasting ever could.

Jesus says: “when we fast, we should not put on very sad, gloomy, dull  faces…  looking terrible… we should not disfigured our faces, or show off, or put up any act that make us look like we need the oohhh’s and the aahhh’s and all the ‘she’s on the mountain’ talk. By this act, we make our real faces, countenance “invisible” and our fasting ‘visible’ to all. When people notice our fast, that is the reward we get.

Action: It is public suffering: visibly sad and pitiful.

Motive: It is done for man’s praise.

Result: The reward is paid in full. You receive human praise. 

By contrast, Jesus tells us in verse 17 how we should fast:

[17] But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, [18] so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen;

The point here is the opposite of letting everyone know you’re fasting. The oil he’s talking about here is just a regular part of hygiene in that day.

It means basically that when you fast, wash your face, comb your hair, dress well, apply some cosmetics if possible, look good, cheerful as always. Don’t try to make sure that everyone knows you’re fasting. Are you fasting to concentrate on God? Great! Then it’s really just between you and him. No one else needs to know. So don’t be obvious about it.

Does that mean that you must keep all fasting a secret?

I don’t think so. I don’t think this verse means that all fasting MUST be done in private. There are examples in the New Testament of groups fasting together. And as we saw earlier, Jesus doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with people knowing that you give, that you pray, or that you fast. The problem is when you do those things SO THAT people will know you’re doing them.

It’s not an issue of who knows about it or what they think about it. It’s all about your motive. Why did you do it? For people? Or for God?

So, even if you’re fasting with other people, keep your fasting a personal thing, just between you and God, and then your motives won’t be in question. God sees even what no one else can see.

and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Just what is this reward?

The Bible doesn’t promise a specific reward for fasting. But I think we can make a pretty good guess. In the Bible, the thing that drives people to fast is their deep concern, their profound need for God to hear them and act. Perhaps that is the reward of fasting. If you are so intent on connecting with God that you skip a meal or two, then you will connect with God. It’s not because you were fasting. It’s because you were sincerely seeking God. And those who really seek him will find him.

So, Why are you fasting? Does your fast honor God? or does it only make you look and feel like a ‘spiritual sister or brother?’

 

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  • What a great article on fasting, Grace! I especially love what you said, “Perhaps that is the reward of fasting. If you are so intent on connecting with God that you skip a meal or two, then you will connect with God.”

  • What a great article on fasting, Grace! I especially love what you said, “Perhaps that is the reward of fasting. If you are so intent on connecting with God that you skip a meal or two, then you will connect with God.”

  • Nicecolumnbyshira

    Thanks for sharing Grace. Your outline of fasting certainly informs us of having true and Godly motivates, regarding are acts of Worship to God. The Bible certainly informs us that we must do all things with a pure heart. Whenever I’m in doub’t about subjects such as this, as a believer in Jesus Christ, I do what He did. Jesus fasted before He began His earthly ministry. He also informed His disciples that certain deliverance only comes by way of fasting and prayer. As I do fast, I find a connection and communion with God that is indescribable, and as you pointed out, it is a devotion between God and I. Once again, thanks for sharing. I enjoyed the read.

    • Thank you Ma for your thoughtful comment. As you rightly said, fasting deepens our connection with God. I’m glad you stopped by.

      • Nicecolumnbyshira

        You’re quite welcome. Blessings to you always.

  • Nicecolumnbyshira

    Thanks for sharing Grace. Your outline of fasting certainly informs us of having true and Godly motivates, regarding are acts of Worship to God. The Bible certainly informs us that we must do all things with a pure heart. Whenever I’m in doub’t about subjects such as this, as a believer in Jesus Christ, I do what He did. Jesus fasted before He began His earthly ministry. He also informed His disciples that certain deliverance only comes by way of fasting and prayer. As I do fast, I find a connection and communion with God that is indescribable, and as you pointed out, it is a devotion between God and I. Once again, thanks for sharing. I enjoyed the read.

    • Thank you Ma for your thoughtful comment. As you rightly said, fasting deepens our connection with God.
      I once heard a preacher say that ‘God ‘commanded’ us to fast because He needs our fast” I didn’t particularly think that was right.
      I am yet to see a Scripture that commands or instructs us to fast. Other than the one God commanded the Israelites to fast on the day of atonement, that was supposed to be a one time fast, but the Jewish people like laws and methods so they made it part of their tradition– not because God wanted it.
      We are the ones in need, not God. God honors our decision to fast but doesn’t mean He needs it. Our fasting and praying or not doesn’t change Him or make Him love us more or less. It changes us. It blesses us, and helps us focus more on God thereby deepening our walk.
      I’m glad you stopped by.

      • Nicecolumnbyshira

        You’re quite welcome. Blessings to you always.

  • Congrats on your new linkup!
    Big Step friend.
    God Bless

  • Congrats on your new linkup!
    Big Step friend.
    God Bless

  • Mary

    Thank you for this post on fasting. I have a friend who has been digging into it and how to add in the prayer piece that is so important when we fast. Your words teach us how fasting develops our relationship with God and this component is needed in fasting. Thank you for inviting me to linkup.

    • Very true Ma. Fasting develops our relationship with God. I once heard a preacher say that ‘God needs our fast” I didn’t particularly think that was right. We are the ones in need, not God. God honors our decision to fast but doesn’t mean He needs it. Our fasting and praying or not doesn’t change Him or make Him love us more or less.
      Thank you for joining the linkup.

  • Mary

    Thank you for this post on fasting. I have a friend who has been digging into it and how to add in the prayer piece that is so important when we fast. Your words teach us how fasting develops our relationship with God and this component is needed in fasting. Thank you for inviting me to linkup.

    • Very true Ma. Fasting develops our relationship with God. I once heard a preacher say that ‘God needs our fast” I didn’t particularly think that was right. We are the ones in need, not God. God honors our decision to fast but doesn’t mean He needs it. Our fasting and praying or not doesn’t change Him or make Him love us more or less.
      Thank you for joining the linkup.

  • Intentionally Pursuing

    Grace, I agree motive is so important when fasting and that fasting will look differently for each person. I love how Jesus modeled fasting when He was in the desert and taught us that fasting and seeking God strengthens us when temptations rise against us and remind us He is the Bread of life. Thank you, Grace, for sharing your heart at #IntentionalTuesday on Intentionally Pursuing. : )

    • Yes, I couldn’t agree more Crystal. Fasting and seeking God strengthens us when temptations rise, it also deepens our walk.
      Thanks for coming around.

  • Grace, I agree motive is so important when fasting and that fasting will look differently for each person. I love how Jesus modeled fasting when He was in the desert and taught us that fasting and seeking God strengthens us when temptations rise against us and remind us He is the Bread of life. Thank you, Grace, for sharing your heart at #IntentionalTuesday on Intentionally Pursuing. : )

    • Yes, I couldn’t agree more Crystal. Fasting and seeking God strengthens us when temptations rise, it also deepens our walk.
      Thanks for coming around.

  • truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

    Excellent Article Sister.

    Fasting is part of a further connection to God. It can eliminate toxins in the body and it requires sacrifice and devotion. Life will never be totally perfect, but we have the opportunity to be better and be a living witness to God’s power. Also, we walk in this journey to not please the world. We do walk in order for our minds to be renewed and our souls be conformed to the will of God. That’s very important.

    • Thank you Timothy. I like how you put it: “We do walk in order for our minds to be renewed and our souls be conformed to God’s will” This an important key to remember.
      I appreciate your thoughtful contribution.

      • truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

        You’re Welcome Sister.

  • truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

    Excellent Article Sister.

    Fasting is part of a further connection to God. It can eliminate toxins in the body and it requires sacrifice and devotion. Life will never be totally perfect, but we have the opportunity to be better and be a living witness to God’s power. Also, we walk in this journey to not please the world. We do walk in order for our minds to be renewed and our souls be conformed to the will of God. That’s very important.

    • Thank you Timothy. I like how you put it: “We do walk in order for our minds to be renewed and our souls be conformed to God’s will” This an important key to remember.
      I appreciate your thoughtful contribution.

      • truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

        You’re Welcome Sister.

  • I think this is a well unpacked topic! I have only fasted a few times and they have been fruitful, but God led me to do them – without that, it would have been meaningless. It’s definitely not something to do if the motive is to be viewed as a pious Christian. Happy to see you at SDG!

  • I think this is a well unpacked topic! I have only fasted a few times and they have been fruitful, but God led me to do them – without that, it would have been meaningless. It’s definitely not something to do if the motive is to be viewed as a pious Christian. Happy to see you at SDG!

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