The Biblical Discipline of Fasting

As we start this series on fasting, we must state what fasting is. For our purposes, fasting is denying or abstaining from something or some things to be closer to God and His purpose for our lives and His purpose in certain situations. Fasting is between you and God. We must desire Him more than the world and the things of the world. It is a hungering for the nearness of God, the Holy Spirit, and the return of the Lord Jesus. Remember, fasting was God's idea, not man's idea.

There are many references in the Bible to fasting. It is His way of humbling us before Him so He will draw near to us and we can draw near to Him. Psalm 51:17 says, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken spirit and a contrite heart, O God, Thou will not despise." The closer we get to Him, the more we will want Him. Fasting is His way of humbling us and working in us and working through us for our sanctification, the lost of this world, and His Glory.

Now, God's blessings are good but they should not take His place as our focus and our desire. For instance, in the Scriptures we will study, fasting is from food and sometimes from food and water. Food is a great blessing from God. Multitudes around the world are hungry and starving right now. Food is good but God is better. The Giver is better than the gift. Our focus and desire should be on the Giver.

Do you want your prayers to be answered? Fasting ignites prayer! It is His way for your prayers to have more power and more results according to His will. Fasting with prayer can break the power of the devil. It is also a weapon against evil as we will see in some of the lessons today. Do you want to be nearer to the Holy Spirit? Do you want the Holy Spirit to be nearer to you? Fasting with a broken spirit and a contrite heart will bring that about. It will increase your faith as you desire more of Him in your life. Hebrews 11:6 says, "Without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

                                 FASTING IN A CRISIS

2nd Samuel 12:13-23. The Crisis. David's son is dying. Because of David's great sin with Bathsheba and having Uriah murdered, the Lord was going to take his child. This was terrible enough but the Lord said it also gave His enemies a reason to blaspheme His name. This is a very strong warning to us! Beware of how you walk and the way and where you walk. So David repented, fasted, and humbled himself and sought the Lord for seven days. The child died. Then David washed and anointed himself, worshiped the Lord, and ate. What does this tell us about David? He accepted the Lord's discipline for his great sin and he still loved the Lord. David Had repented, he fasted, he prayed, he humbled himself, and he sought the Lord. God has to do the rest. It was in His hands, not David's. When his servants questioned him about this he said "While the child was still alive I fasted and wept, for I said Who knows, the Lord may be gracious to me that the child may live." This is our hope, our desire, our prayer, when we fast, and when we pray to our God. May He be gracious to us.

2nd Chronicles 20: 1-22,29,30. The Crisis. A great multitude was coming to invade Judah.King Jehoshaphat was afraid, but he set his face to seek the Lord. Where was his attention? The enemy and the problem, or the Lord? He proclaimed a fast. Why? It is God's way to "get His attention" and His help in time of need and so that people know it is of Him. He then gets the Glory. So his people gathered together to seek the Lord and fast and pray. Jehoshaphat says a mighty prayer to God. Some of the prayer is Solomon's from 2nd Chronicles 6. This is a great prayer as he pleads with God to move. We are not able to overcome this situation or even know what to do. BUT! Our eyes are on you, Lord. He is the God of the impossible. I like it that the families were gathered there too. What a witness and testimony to the children! THEN, after fasting, gathering together to seek the Lord, and praying, the Holy Spirit responds and speaks through a prophet. Fasting ignites prayers! Do not be afraid! How many times do we read that in the Word of God? It is God's battle, not ours if we let Him work for us and through us. Jehoshaphat the king and all Judah fell on their faces and the Levites stood to praise the Lord God with very loud voices. Humility, worship, and praise. This should be our response when the Lord God moves on our behalf. He deserves it! The next morning Jehoshaphat encouraged the people and sent the people who sang and praised the Lord out ahead of the army. When they began singing and praising the Lord, God routed the army of the enemy. Worship is powerful! It is a weapon in our arsenal. In verses 29 and 30 we read that this was a testimony to all the kingdoms around them when they heard that the Lord fought for Israel. Then Jehoshaphat was at peace for God gave him rest on all sides. Praise the Lord! How did this come about? Judah fasted and prayed.

Esther chapter 4. The Crisis. The planned extermination of the Jews. When Mordecai heard the news, he greatly humbled himself with mourning, fasting, weeping, and wailing. A great crisis needs action. Go to the King! Mordecai told Esther to go to the king to implore his favor for her people. Because going to the king without his permission could lead to death, Esther was afraid to go. I love Mordecai's answer. You are in danger too and if you remain silent, relief and deliverance will come from another place. What great faith in God and His sovereignty! Do you have faith like that in God and His Word? Are you in a position or a crisis where you have influence by God's sovereignty? Go to the King of Kings! Just like Jehoshaphat, Esther said assemble God's people and fast and pray. No food or water for three days. I will go to the King. Esther had favor with the king and Haman was exposed. We have favor with our King Jesus. Look at verses 5:14 and 7:10. God responded to the fasting and praying and the Jews were spared from destruction.

                                THINGS TO CONSIDER

Fasting is a Biblical discipline just like reading the Scriptures, worshiping, and praying. Do you fast?

Do you desire Him more than the things of the world or His blessings?

Do you desire to be closer to Him and He be closer to you?

Are you in a crisis situation in your life? Is the enemy of your soul causing you distress? Fast and pray. Fasting ignites your prayers!

Try fasting and praying and see what the Lord will do. Assemble with God's people and seek Him as you fast and pray.

Suggested reading:
God's Chosen Fast by Arthur Wallis
A Hunger For God: John Piper

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