The Discipline of Fasting

It is sobering to realize that the very first statement Jesus made about fasting dealt with the question of motive (Matt. 6:16-18). To use good things to our own ends is always the sign of false religion. How easy it is to take something like fasting and try to use it to get God to do what we want.

Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline

When I first took a serious look at the discipline of fasting, I never really thought of it as something necessary for me to practice. However, I decided to do it anyway. I started off fasting for about a day and a half. Then, I fasted for 24 hours once every week for about 10 weeks. What a wonderful experience it was.

During the times that I would have normally been eating, I spent that time alone, meditating or in prayer. God, through His word, revealed to me things that I needed to change in my life.

I think my time of fasting was most effective because I did it out of obedience, rather than to get something from God. I noticed after a few weeks I started to expect God to reveal new things to me, and when he wasn’t, I was going to quit. However, I realized that the purpose of fasting is not necessarily so that God will reveal new things to me, rather it is a time devoted to God in response to recognizing His provision in my life. Foster also notes:

Fasting must forever center on God. It must be God-initiated and God-ordained. Like the prophetess Anna, we need to be “worshiping with fasting” (Luke 2:37). Every other purpose must be subservient to God.

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