But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face so that you may not be seen fasting by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. (Matthew 6:17-18 NASB)
Mike Bickle talks about the grace to fast. I have found this very helpful. Before you begin to fast, ask the Lord for grace for the fast. This will not necessarily take away the hunger pangs, but it will help you to keep focused on the end you have in mind.
Sometimes you may fast toward some end. Many have been fasting leading up to the recent election, adding to their fast prayer for our nation.
But for much of Christian History, a weekly day of fasting was part of the Christian life. I knew a couple when I was a young Christian who fasted every Tuesday and used it to pray together for their family. Now they did not take the day off and shut everything down. They just went about their business, but the moments when a desire for food popped up, they would stop and pray for their kids. Then in the evening they would take time together and pray through the life of their family.
Mike Bickle (sorry to keep going back to Mike, but he is one of the few teachers talking about this these days) asks (does not demand) that anyone on staff with IHOP fast once a week, and has recently upped this to two days per week.
There are times when a leader may call for an extended fast. Daniel tells of a 21 day fast, and there are numerous 40 day fasts in the Biblical record.
There is a little fine print that goes along with fasting and I would be remiss not to include it here.
First, PLEASE HEAR THIS – do not fall into condemnation! This is really important. This may also be the hardest part about fasting. If you are not in a solid habit of fasting, (and probably even if you are) you will blow it from time to time – maybe even every time. You will start out with the idea – I am going to fast for the day [this is what happened to me the other day] and someone will walk by with a box of donut holes, stick it in your face, and say, “wanna donut?”
Before your brain kicks in and says to your hand “we’re fasting today – politely decline – you are on your 2nd one.
Then you are like – I am an idiot!
Ok – get over it. At this point you can do 1 of 2 things.
1 – try again tomorrow
2 – go ahead and fast anyway
Next, understand that no where in the New Testament is fasting required. It is always voluntary. So lighten up. I only spent 2 weeks on it here because I don’t hear much teaching on it, and I thought it might help those who want to use this particular discipline.
With a couple of possible Old Testament stories, children are never required engage in a food related fast. Certainly there is room for the giving up of material things – entertainment, video games, or some part to their diet like desserts etc.
People with health issues (you know who you are) should only fast under the guidance of a doctor, and should feel no pressure to fast, if there are not physically able.
While Jesus tells us to keep our fasting to ourselves, there are times in the Word where Corporate fasts are called. Like praying, there is a segment of our walk with the Lord that belongs to the closet, and other parts that we can share.
If your leadership calls a fast, you are free to join, and walk in it. Most often, they will not require you to “sign up,” so you can still keep your participation between you and the Lord.
Well – I really did not expect that to take over 2 weeks. Please forgive me for camping here so long. I think I have officially gotten it out of my system now. I hope this helps!
See you tomorrow.