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Why Are You Fasting?

Growing up in the Christian Faith, I've been told things like "you have to fast" "fasting helps you die to your flesh" or "fasting will give you a deeper spiritual enlightenment from God," among other things. You've probably heard this as well.

Recently, I was prompted in my spirit to educate myself a little deeper on what fasting looks like in the Bible. Why did mankind fast? Was fasting a command set by God? I mean, God does want us to seek out the truth for ourselves. Matthew 7:7 reads “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." Here is what was revealed when I sought out the truth about what the Bible says about fasting.

Fasting is mentioned throughout the Bible, both in the Old and New Testament. Does this mean that fasting is a command by God? No! Let's take a look at Jesus and His disciples. Jesus’ disciples did not fast while Jesus was with them. Why? Fasting was associated in most cases with times of mourning, times of trouble, and seeking the will of God. When the disciples of John the Baptist asked Jesus why His disciples did not fast like them or fast like the Pharisees did, Jesus replied, “The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast” (Matt. 9:14–15). Jesus said, "they cannot mourn" and He also said, "THEN they will fast." Jesus did not say "They have to fast." As you seek the scriptures for yourself, you will find that MOST OF THE TIME, fasting went hand in hand with prayer, you can't have one without the other. In addition, fasting was taking place as a result of people being hurt, they were troubled, being tested or they were mourning.

Let's take a look at this topic from a more human perspective, especially since it was a human act "fasting." I want you to think about yourself, how you felt when you lost someone or something, how you felt when you were troubled in your spirit, and ask yourself this question "did I feel like eating during those times?" Chances are your answer is "No." When you are upset, eating food is the last thing on your mind. In fact, during those times, your stomach is so upset, you feel like vomiting. When you are deeply grieved, fasting is a natural response that your body exhibits. As such, imagine the people in the bible who grieved and mourned. How much more did their natural bodies go into a fast on its own? Alot more! They were humans just like you and I.

Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights. During those days and nights, he was being tempted. Matthew 4:1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. This type of testing is also referred to in the Greek language as "peirazó" and it means "to make proof of, to attempt, test, tempt!" Then, Jesus went out to preach the gospel, knowing that soon He would be persecuted for a crime He did not commit. He would be rejected, spit on, beaten and that He would put Himself in a position to willingly give up His life to be crucified on a cross, humiliated in front of everyone, and He would do this, not by His own human will but by the will of God the Father. Luke 22:42 tells us how much Jesus was suffering when He said "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." Jesus was so troubled His sweat was "blood." Luke 22:44 reads “And being in agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground."

Fasting was also practiced when seeking a revelation from God. Let's look at Daniel. Please read Daniel 9 on your own and you will find that the man Gabriel, whom Daniel had seen in a previous vision came to him in his extreme weariness and gave him instruction saying (verse 22) "O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you insight with understanding.” So, you see here, that fasting was implemented by Daniel and he received insight with understanding. God revealed to him what he needed. Daniel was desperately seeking the will of God.

Lastly, fasting has no value at all (as a Christian) if you're fasting as an obligation, doing it as a spiritual diet, church ritual, or if you feel pressured by your church leaders to fast. In fact, that type of fasting becomes a spiritual hindrance and a sin when done for any reason apart from knowing and following the Lord’s will. You miss the mark! Fasting should always be linked to a pure heart, a genuine desire to seek God's will, and a humble spirit.

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