Throughout the Scriptures, fasting is mentioned. Praying is also mentioned throughout. So why the emphasis on this? What good does it do?
2 Chronicles 20:3 says: “And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.” No mention of prayer. But obviously, worship through prayer during fasting is a powerful combination.
Daniel 9:3 says: “Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.” Here, prayer and fasting and a pronounced posture is included.
Matthew 6:16-18 says: “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.
Who should actually see the “fasting”? The Lord should be the only one. Unless it is a group fast, the Lord wants to see your dedication and your heart.
But can someone “fast” and not involve food? Food is most always assumed because it is such a necessary requirement for existence. I wrote a parable on “fasting” almost 20 years ago and published it.
The Parable of the Fast (1999)
A person is an amazing thing, so special, so precious, so weak;
And the strength we possess, is not really ours, but borrowed and adopted, you see.
What’s also unique is what we can bring on ourselves when we do not acquire,
A strength that is based on God’s awesome power instead of our innate desire.
Faith in the Lord can sometimes be tough when feelings of weakness prevail;
And strength can’t be found, no matter the search, and we seem so brittle and frail.
But strength can be found, in numerous ways, when looked for in places divine;
For Satan can’t muster anything close, to God’s presence in this heart of mine.
There are many tools in the workshop of God, the fast is one easy to see;
It’s easy to hold, feels right when it’s used, and comes at no charge, it is free.
And fasting exists, a tool of the trade when used with specifics in mind.
With results that surprise us and promises made,and pure nuggets of blessings we find.
The fast is many times mis-understood,a product of not being told.
It has many uses, but feelings arise,of how it is packaged and sold.
If we look to the Bible, it tells of the use,an exciting event to be read.
How people see need, to pray and to fast,and by God’s spirit, be led.
But hold on a minute, let’s not be too quick,to say it’s not eating at all;
There’s more to a fast than you can beat with a stick,and how to stand spiritually tall:
When you fast, think of this: an attitude change,a new tool to use in your life.
A fast that does not, involve food at all,or something you cut with a knife.
Food is a measurable, physical thing,and fasting of food has its place.
But fasting a habit, a flaw, or a sin,start doing a real about-face.
Fast something new, a weakness perhaps,for a minute, an hour, a day;
And that brings you closer, to living in faith,’cause God would want it that way.
Pray as you fast, fast as you pray,God’s grace will make you so strong.
To conquer your fears, and habits, and sin, you’ll wonder what took you so long.
“Lord, thank You forshowing us how denial of self, elevating You in speech, thought and prayer strengthens the bond between us.When I look out at the souls that I cross paths with every day, enable me not to look like I’m fasting. Allow me to use Your strength, Your shine and Your glow to guide people to the cross.”In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”