As we approach Resurrection Sunday, there is much talk about fasting during this time. This devotional is about the spirit of fasting. It is the about our heart condition and our disposition when we fast. It assumes that we already know the importance and the value of fasting. It also assumes that we fast regularly and desire to walk closely with the Lord. If you would like to know about the importance of fasting, you can read my devotional on this subject, “The Importance of Fasting” in the link provided, “The Importance of Fasting.”
While fasting is an important aspect of a believer’s life, we don’t want to allow it to become rote or to do it because others are doing it. In addition, fasting is not manipulating our way to get God to do what we want Him to do for us. Whenever we rely on a method or technique as an answer to reaching God, we become religious. Being religious means that we are doing things to earn spiritual points or to make something happen.
When we are in a relationship with the Lord, our spiritual walk becomes fluid and dynamic. While we have routines such as prayer and Bible reading, they are not the end all to being a Christian. They are the means to get to know God, so we can develop intimacy with the Lord and remain in tune with Him. Similarly, we fast not to just prove we are spiritual or want something from God, but our desire is to get closer to the heart of the Lord.
Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Matthew 6:16-18
What does God say about fasting? There are many scriptures in this regard, and the book of Matthew tells us Jesus’ thoughts on fasting. Matthew was a Jewish tax collector, and the gospel of Matthew was written to Jewish audience who understood fasting. Jesus knew that the religious zealots thought highly of themselves for their fasting habits. However, He also knew that their fast was for appearance sake to win the approval of people rather than pleasing God.
The above scripture is telling us that we should fast without fanfare and live life as normal as possible. Practically speaking, it’s a good idea to keep our fasting days less eventful and try not to make plans with others that require eating and drinking. We should make the effort not to discuss our fast with others. The Lord expects us to fast quietly and not make a show of it. If we want to impress others or win the approval of others, then we have decided having the favor of man and their approval is more important than God’s reward of intimacy and blessing.
Make fasting something special between you and the Lord rather than advertising it to others. This is especially important when our intent in mentioning it is to prove something. We should not feel pressured to fast, but it should come out of our heart to seek the Lord.
I will continue with this subject in the next devotional.