Notes from our time with Chris & Jeri
Matt. 4.2: Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights. He went into the desert to be tempted, so he fasted and then Satan came to tempt him. Perhaps Jesus fasted to be more vulnerable to temptation? Or maybe he fasted from food and people to feed the Spirit–to be strengthened by prayer before his temptation. His temptation makes him more credible to us. If he had not been tempted. He would not be able to relate to us. If he couldn’t related to us, what would make him appealing to us?
Ex. 34.28: Moses fasted 40 days and 40 nights when he went on the mountain to receive the 10 commandments. Fasting makes you sensitive to yourself; it brings to light the weakness of your flesh, but it also makes you sensitive to God speaking and working in you. Had Moses not fasted he may not have been able to hear God’s Word to him.
From the Bible dictionary: Fasting can be done as a sign of distress, grief, or repentance; the law only required one day of fasting–the day of atonement. Just going without food and water will not automatically gain the desired results of a fast.
How does Spirit-led living connect to fasting? The idea of feeding the Spirit and starving the flesh is appropriate in regards to fasting. Fasting is not just a time to starve the flesh, for fasting is also a time to feed the spirit. The idea of fasting is to remove something you need (nourishment, sleep, companionship) or something you love or find pleasure in (television, chocolate, video games) for personal time with God. We can fast from our needs to show God that our relationship with him is more important than our physical, human needs.
Why should we fast:
- To repent: OT communities fasted as a sign of repentance when faced with destruction (Ninevah)
- To grieve: OT people fasted after the loss of a leader (Israel and Saul)
- To show distress: OT folks fasted when faced with trouble (Esther and the Jews)
- To hear/meet with God: Moses fasted when he went to the mountain to meet with God
- To begin a journey/do God’s work: Elijah fasted during the journey on which God sent him
- To face a challenging task: Jesus fasted before being tempted
How should we fast:
- Matt. 6.16: “Do not put on a gloomy face so others know you are fasting”–Don’t changed your manner or actions; behave normally when you fast.
- Luke 18.12: Understand the fasting doesn’t make you righteous before God
- Acts 13.8: Pair fasting with prayer. Replace the time you spend eating, watching TV, etc. by spending it with God.
- Ps. 109.24: Expect to feel physically weak.
- Is. 58.3: We should come clean and repent before fasting.
- Is. 58.5: God may be the one who prompts us to fast, especially before judgment and calamity.
“After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” — Matthew 4:2