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Most of the major Bible characters fasted. Should I?

My study of Scripture suggests several things about fasting I think you should consider.

The specific words fast or fasting do not show up until well after the Pentateuch, indicating that the practice was not a part of the Law. Even if it were a part of the Law, it should be remembered that simple adherence to the Law is not legalism. Legalism is the false belief that salvation comes through obedience to the Law and the attempts of legalists to force those false beliefs on others. Nowhere in the Bible is adherence to the Law portrayed as a means to salvation or as a means to maintain salvation, that was the work and teaching of well intentioned but mis-guided Pharisees and Judaizers.

I think the NT references to fasting are relevant to us post-crossers. Here are the references and some thoughts about them and their implications for us.

“And whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance in order to be seen fasting by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.”(Matt. 6:16)

“…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.” (Matt. 6:18)

[ “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.“](Matt. 17:21)

And John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and they came and said to Him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “While the bridegroom is with them, the attendants of the bridegroom do not fast, do they? So long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. “But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. (Mark 2:18-20)

And while they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. (Acts 13:2)

And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed. (Acts 14:23)

Possible meaning:

Matthew 6:16-18 obviously speak to the purity of motive.

Matthew 17:21 speaks to a very mysterious (to me) concept of the “unleasing” of God’s power which is somehow related to the unification of prayer and fasting

Mark 2:18-20 speaks to the revelation of Jesus of Himself as Christ (deity) and to the fact that fasting has a place in the believer’s life during the time between His ascent and His 2nd coming.

Acts 13:2 and 14:23 demonstrates that the disciples practiced fasting and that they did it purposefully. In the first case it was done as part of their free will ministry to the Lord (this might be related to the idea of Romans 12:1) and the Lord used it to reveal His desires to them. In the second case, they wanted to have an answer to a specific question.

What can we infer about the reasons for you and I to fast.

1. To lose weight (just kidding)
2. To unleash God’s power in the direction of a spiritual stronghold (more on this in a moment)
3. As a part of our spiritual worship of and ministry to our Father, we “deny” a psychological need and delay a biological / physical need so that we can focus our energies on our and His “spiritualness.“
4. Similarly, as a part of seeking clarity of understanding regarding God’s specific will in some critical area of our life and ministry.

With regard to items 2, 3 and 4, it seems to me that the real bottom line is relationship building. It takes focus and “sacrifice” to really get to know someone, to listen intently, to hear with understanding, to know what makes them tick. It may be that even in the context of “unleashing power” that what really happens is that God reveals more clearly how to engage the enemy with success. If this is true then fasting is all about love. Our love for Him and His for us. When we fast we focus (after we get through the first hunger spike).

The corollary to this perspective is that to attempt to use fasting to manipulate God to do “xyz” is foolish, disrespectful, dishonest and inconsistent with our identity as His kids.

I really do not believe there is anything legalistic or magical about fasting. It is simply one of the means God has designed to for His children to actively pursue and enter into a deeper sense of oneness with Him. Within this context it is a privilege that only His kids can enjoy with guaranteed success.