This week, my uncle’s church decided to do a fast. Some of you may already know the importance of fasting, but I think it’s more important and even necessary with the state of the United States and the rest of the world. Christians all around the world need to be fasting and praying to God, seeking Him with all our hearts now more than ever.
Before we talk about the importance of fasting, let’s talk about what fasting actually is. Fasting is a time when you come before God in prayer. Most generally, it’s when you sacrifice something and give that time dedicated to God. In the Bible, men of God would give up food and drink and spend that time in prayer. But the key is the position of your heart—where is your heart at? God doesn’t appreciate fasting if you’re grumbling about it. Fasting should be when you humble yourself before God and it should be done with all your heart—fully willing to give yourself over to God. It’s a way to draw closer to Him and when we fast and pray, things in the spiritual realm are moved. Prayers are answered and breakthroughs take place. It draws us closer to God because the entire purpose of a fast is to give up something you desire to show God that you desire Him above all else.
The importance of fasting is more than most people realize. It cleanses us of sin and things that hold us back from God. God cannot look upon sin and no matter how much we may try to be sinless, it still does interfere in our lives at times. So, when we fast and give ourselves to God’s authority like this, it allows Him to hear our prayers. An example of this was in the book of Ezra in the Bible, when the Ezra and the people sought God.
“So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.” – Ezra 8:23
Remember that when you fast, it isn’t about seeking your own pleasure. Fasting doesn’t necessarily have to be giving up food or drink. It’s the concept of giving up your pleasure and desires for God—giving yourself to His will instead of yours.
An example of this is found in 1 Corinthians chapter seven verse 5. This is speaking about marriage and not depriving each other of being intimate because a wife’s body belongs to her husband and her husband’s body belongs to her. But one part of it says, “Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
So, when you go away to prayer, this says that you may deprive each other of the pleasure of being together, so that you can properly seek God. But then, when your prayer and fasting is over, to come together again, so Satan won’t tempt you.
In other words, it’s about sacrificing your desires and pleasures to come to God, instead of seeking after yourself.
Another example of this is in Isaiah when the people weren’t doing this—they didn’t humble themselves and sought their own pleasure instead.
“‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” – Isaiah 58:3-7
When it says, “Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice be heard on high” it’s speaking of the selfishness they had in their hearts. You must be willing to give up whatever your pleasure is to seek God instead. It’s a time to return to God with your whole heart, like it says in Joel chapter two verse twelve—“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”
When should you fast? You can fast anytime God leads you to—and if He leads you to do a fast, you definitely should obey Him. But when you feel like your relationship with God has gotten distant, when you want to feel Him or seek after Him, or times like now when the world is in a bad state and the country is in a terrible place, it’s the perfect time to seek after God. When you want to overcome sin or see a breakthrough in your life, career, marriage, or anything God may lay on your heart, it may be time for you to do a fast.
Psalm chapter 69 verse 10 says, “When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting, it became my reproach.”
During your fast, it’s also important to seek God, pray, and read the Bible. When Jesus was tempted by Satan, he was able to flee from Satan’s temptations and resist them by quoting Scripture. So, if you’re trying to overcome sin or fight against a spiritual battle by seeking God, it’s most important to fill yourself with God’s Word.
“But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – Matthew 4:4
This is a time to discipline your body and to learn to worship God in all you do—whether you’re at work or doing a household chore, do it all for God. By fasting, you can get into a good habit of making your time more about Jesus rather than yourself. It’s about self-forgetfulness.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31
“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:27
Only do a fast if God tells you to and to decide what to give up, pray and ask God to show you what He would like you to fast—and even how long He would like you to do it. He’ll show and tell you what you need to know.
Now, more than ever, America needs to be on our knees, seeking our Father in Heaven, repenting of our sins and seeking His mercy, grace, and forgiveness.
If you’re interested in the sermon’s my uncle has been preaching on, check out Barnett Baptists’ Facebook Page here!