People fast today for all sorts of reasons. In fact it’s a common practice in many religions. It’s as if there’s a good and natural tendency inbuilt into human beings to explore this discipline. For followers of Jesus, fasting is assumed and encouraged in the Christian Scriptures. Indeed, it’s part of discipleship. If you want to grow as a disciple, it’s good to fast.
So a second of 5 Fasting Questions is this: WHY? Why fast?
Here’s 12 positive reasons why people in the bible fasted:
1. as a sign of humility (Ezra 8:21)
2. as sign of repentance (Joel 2:12)
3. as a sign of grief (Judges 20:26)
4. when seeking protection (Ezra 8:21-23)
5. when seeking guidance (Judges 20:26)
6. when seeking healing (Ps 35:13)
7. when choosing leaders (Acts 13:2-3)
8. in preparation for spiritual warfare (Mt 17:21)
9. to avert war or national disaster (Jonah 3:6-10)
10. for general spiritual growth (Daniel 10:2-6)
11. for leadership formation (Mt 3:13-4:11)
12. as a good regular practice – weekly, or more monthly, or seasonally, or annually (Lk 2:37)
In all of these examples, fasting is linked to prayer. Prayer is communication with God, so fasting is done to help and enhance this communication. However, in the same way that we don’t pray only to twist God’s arm, neither do we fast just to win God’s favour or persuade him to act. We fast because it’s beneficial and brings the Kingdom of God – helping us know him more. Discover his will. Align ourselves with his purposes. And make a difference in the world.
There are other reasons to fast – such as detoxing the body and identifying with the poor. But as we shall later see, we must also take care when fasting. We’re not meant to make ourselves ill. That’s why knowing why you’re fasting is important, as is making sure you’re doing so wisely and prayerfully.
So there are lots of good reasons to fast, but in the end of the day, fasting is good because it releases God’s power. It just does! Not always immediately. Not always tangibly. But it does. And that’s why I’m convinced this is an ancient practice that needs to be rediscovered by disciples today.
Heavenly Father, thank you that there are many benefits of fasting. Next time I fast, may I know the reason why and see the kingdom come in greater power. Teach me. Help me. Guide me. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.