Tod Kennedy, November 9, 2005

  1. What is fasting? What is fasting? Fasting is the deliberate and voluntary going without food (not water) in order to concentrate on God and prayer to God. Daniel 10.2-3 shows that fasting did not require abstinence from all food and drink. Fasting was recognized and practiced through out the OT world and the early part of the church age.
    • Fasting showed God that you take him seriously.
    • Fasting is an act of humility or accepting God’s authority and care for you.
    • Fasting and prayer are linked together.
    • Fasting is private in the sense that you do it without attempting to show it off.
    • Fasting was voluntary, and there was no set length of time.
  2. The attitude and reason for fasting is very important.
    • Pride, publicly displayed fasting, and ritual without reality fasting offend God (Isaiah 58:3-4; Zechariah 7:5-6; Matthew 6:16; Luke 2:37).
    • Humility and concentration on the Lord are proper attitudes (Matthew 6:17-18).
    • The New Testament words for fasting are the verb nhsteuw (Strong’s 3522), used 20 times for fasting; and the noun nhsteia (Strong’s 3521), used 4 times for fasting.
  3. Why would someone fast?
    • To show genuine humility, repentance, confession of sin, and need of the Lord (1 Samuel 7:6; Jeremiah 36:9; Ezra 10:6; Nehemiah 9:1-2; Joel 2:12; Daniel 9:2-20; 10:2-3).
    • To pray for others, especially those ill (Psalm 35:13; 2 Samuel 12:15-23).
    • To pray for guidance and safety (Esther 4:3, 16; Ezra 8:21-31).
    • At the hour of one’s death (Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 31:13; 2 Samuel 1:12; 3:35).
    • To concentrate on service for the Lord (Acts 13:1-4; 14:23).
  4. What about fasting today in the age of the church?
    • Fasting has not been set aside, though it is not mentioned in the New Testament after Acts.
    • Fasting is worship, both formal worship in a church group setting or informal worship done moment by moment in one’s life.
    • Fasting to please men is not acceptable. Therefore if we fast, we are not to call attention to ourselves.
    • Believers may fast as long as our motive and attitude is right before God: humility, recognition and expression of our dependence and need for God in our lives, intercessory prayer for others and ourselves, and focus ourselves on God’s will and our ministry for him.
    • The study of fasting challenges us to take prayer and biblical concentration seriously in a very practical way.
      • Daily prayer, both light-hearted and very serious prayer.
      • Occasional longer times of prayer and thinking about God, God’s word, Christian service, and God’s will for your life.