FASTING (Part 1)
Did you know that ‘Fasting’ is mentioned many times in Scripture. Fasting is abstaining from food for a period of time to observe and connect with Yehovah (or God). Many fast for health, others for personal issues and still others for religious reasons. Why is fasting so important and what is the purpose of fasting for Christians? What are the benefits of fasting? These questions will be answered below from the viewpoint of Scriptures.
Fasting is mentioned throughout the Old and New Testament and is essential for all believers. The purpose of fasting is to draw the believer closer to Yehovah (Jehovah or God). This is where one can focus the mind for a specified period, to devote time to communicate with Yehovah. Fasting has a spiritual, mental and physical effect upon the body. Fasting clears the mind of all the day to day routines of life and elevates to the Creator. There are various benefits to fasting for all that take the time to participate.
These are just a few benefits of fasting: To humble oneself before Yehovah (Jehovah or God). Seeking Gods help in times of need or trouble. Seeking guidance or direction in life. Finding comfort in grief. Repentance for sins commited. Needing protection from the enemy. Looking for deliverance from evil. Needing help to pray according to Gods will. Needing to overcome sin and return to God. Need to know what is needed for the work of Yehovah. How to reach out to the needs of others. Expressing true worship and thanksgiving to Yehovah God. Needing the sanctifying power of the word of truth. Expressing the need to intercede for others.
Fasting helps the believer to hear from God through the reading of the scriptures and through the holy spirit working in the heart. It will also reveal our hidden sins, hence repentance is required. This process strengthens faith and draws the believer in closer connection with Yehovah. Fasting teaches the believer how to pray with genuine motives, so one does not deceive oneself. Both private and joint fasting is good to strengthen, encourage and uplift the believer. When one decides to fast privately no one needs to know, it’s between Yehovah and yourself.
In Joel chapter 1 and verse 14 God declares a fast by his people for there was starvation and drought upon the land “Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord”. Also Joel chapter 2 and verses 12,13 and 15 states “Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning. And rend your heart and not your garments and turn unto the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness and repenteth him of the evil. Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly”.
Jeremiah chapter 36 and verses 5 to 7 says “And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, I am shut up, I cannot go into the house of the Lord, therefore thou go. Read in the roll, which thou hast written from my mouth, the words of the Lord in the ears of the people in the Lords house upon the fasting day. Also thou shalt read them in the ears of all Judah that come out of their cities. It may be they will present their supplications before the Lord, and will return everyone from his evil way…”
In the book of Ezra chapter 8 and verses 21 to 23, it gives an example where God can protect through genuine fasting and prayer. “Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us and for our little ones and for all our substance. For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way, because we had spoken unto the king, saying, the hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him. But his power and his wrath is against them that forsake him. So we fasted and besought our God for this and he was intreated of us”.
In the book of Esther Chapter 4 and verses 15 to 17 it shows how fasting helps to intercede for others. “Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer. Go, gather all the Jews that are present in Shushan and fast ye for me, and neither eat or drink three days, night or day. I also and my maidens will fast likewise and so will I go into the king, which is not according to the law. If I perish, I perish. So Mordecai went his way and did according to all that Esther had commanded him”.
In the book of Jonah, the city of Nineveh through fasting and prayer was spared from destruction because they believed the word of God and repented of their evil ways. Jonah chapter 3 and verses 3 to 5, and 9,10 “So Jonah arose and went into Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a days journey and he cried and said, yet 40 days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. Who can tell if God will turn and repent and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them and he did it not”.
Daniel fasted and prayed for his people and himself for the sins committed, that they would receive his mercies and forgiveness. Daniel chapter 9 and verses 1, 3 to 6 explains that “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting…and I prayed unto the Lord my God. I made my confession and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him and to them that keep his commandments. We have sinned and have committed iniquity and have done wickedly and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgements. Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes and our fathers and to all the people of the land”.
I hope you have learned more from the Scriptures. Next time I will look at Fasting (Part 2)
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