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.
The Bible has much to say about fasting. Fasting has been a part of Christian history for a long time. Daniel fasted in Babylon, David fasted when Bathsheba’s first son was born, Jeremiah had much to say about the fast that God would chose, and we know that Jesus practiced fasting when he fasted for forty days in the wilderness before Satan came and tempted him.
Fasting is not a sure-fire way to get God’s attention nor is it a ploy to change God’s mind. Fasting is a spiritual discipline that sets food aside to get in greater tune with the will of God for one’s life. Food is a distraction of the flesh. When we set food aside our senses become greater attuned to listening to the Word of God. When we fast from food we should increase our time in the word and in prayer. We should skip a meal or a day of meals or a few days of meals when we are seeking the will and mind of God in a particular matter or when we are faced with a task that is going to require greater spiritual power. As I said, fasting brings us in tune with the heart and mind of God when set aside the physical satisfaction for a greater spiritual satisfaction.
If you have never practiced the spiritual discipline of fasting, I suggest you skip a meal and pray when you would have eaten. Whenever you feel hungry, pray again and ask God for his strength as you seek His face and power.
Jesus, who knew the discipline of fasting, gave instructions regarding its practice. There were those who when they fasted wanted everyone else to know they were fasting. The purpose of their fasting was to look better by acting spiritual. They would seek the pity and praise of those around them. Jesus told them that there was no spiritual benefit for that type of fasting.
Instead, Jesus said, when we fast don’t tell anyone, don’t act hungry, act normal so that God will be the one who gives you the reward you are seeking.
I have often spent time in fasting when I needed to know the mind of God or the power of God in a given situation. An increased spiritual sensitivity has been the result of these times. God wants us to know His will and He wants to give us His power. When we seek him through prayer and fasting and we then experience his answer, we know that God has stepped in and we rejoice in him.
One of the ladies at Sunrise who has been there a long time, died while I was gone. Jean was a WW II nurse who loved the Lord, knew all of the hymns and became a friend. Even when she did not know who I was, she still knew all of the songs.
The world lost another soldier of the Lord today in the death of Billy Graham. Millions of people around the world heard the gospel of salvation from the crusades of Billy Graham. I heard on WBBM this morning that Graham was a man of integrity and humility. What a legacy for the world to give to a man of God. Dr Graham and Jean will meet in the Lord’s presence along with so many who will be thankful of Dr. Graham’s love for the gospel. I hope you realize that the world still needs soldiers to carry the message of God’s grace to them.
I will begin a series with the teens tonight on living with pain. Many of our teens have pained lives. Pray for open hearts to this series.
Have a great day in the Lord,