When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
This week’s devotional is from Daniel Eduardo, BrightLine.
What do think when you hear the word fasting? Something for the super spiritual? Maybe you don’t have time? Does it fill you up with fear and dread?
Fasting is a spiritual discipline that is evidenced throughout scripture, first instructed in Leviticus 16:29 ‘On the tenth day of the appointed month in early autumn, you must deny yourselves (…)’ to prophets like Joel (Joel 2:12), Daniel (Daniel 9:3) and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:4) among others. Even the enemies of God’s people like the Ninevites, when faced with the message from God delivered by the prophet Jonah, called a fast for the whole nation.
‘The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow’ (Jonah 3:5). Fasting is something that is practiced in the Old Testament.
Fast-forward a few hundred years and we arrive in the New Testament where we see that this discipline is still being practiced by the Apostles and the early church.
‘One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.”’(Acts 13:2).
‘Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.’ (Acts 14:23)
Ultimately, in the gospels we see that Jesus was a fan of fasting and it is something that he did on a regular basis. After his baptism in the Jordan River, he goes to the desert where he fasts for 40 days and 40 nights (Luke 4:2-4) right before the start of his public ministry. He would constantly go away to spend time with God by praying and fasting.
When we fast, we are adopting a posture of humility before God. It gives us a fresh perspective, a fresh of breath air in the midst of the situations that we find ourselves in. It opens our eyes to the realisation that God is bigger than any situation. It draws us closer to him.
Fasting is for everyone.
During Lent, why not be intentional with your fasting? An opportunity to be praying for someone, a situation or maybe just to get closer to God?
Why not start small? Maybe you could fast one meal a day? Maybe you could fast meat and dairy products? Or perhaps it’s TV?
Whatever you decide to do, it should be sacrificial.
Fasting should be costly.
King David said ‘I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.’ (2 Samuel 24:24)
Ask God what you should fast. Maybe the thing that makes you go ‘I would never be able to give that up’, should be the thing that you should fast?
During the times when you were meant to eat or watch tv, use that time to pray for someone or something specific or maybe and opportunity to read the bible.
If your belly rumbles because you’ve been fasting food, use that as an alarm to remind you to pray.
Don’t fast just for the sake of fasting in order to tick a box.
Let us fast with purpose and with intentionality.
As I enter into this time of fasting, I invite you in. Come into my heart, come into my mind, renew me in new ways. You are my Lord, King and Saviour. You are perfect, you are beautiful and good. Lord, I am not those things. I confess that I am sinful, that I am ugly in my sin and without you, I am lost. Forgive me Lord for the ways I have not put you first, forgive me for not letting you reign over me.
Lord, this is what this time of fasting is all about – to take me off of the throne of my own life and to put you on the throne instead. I know I will be hungry for food – I pray as I am hungry that you would satisfy me with your Word. I know I will be tired – I pray as I am tired that you would strengthen me. Sustain me in your grace, Father. For every hunger pang I experience, direct my gaze not down to my belly but up to you. For I know that I cannot live on bread alone, but every Word from you.
Help me enter this time of fasting and prayer with a heart of joy and a mouth that praises your goodness. Give me all the benefits of this spiritual discipline and keep me humble. Thank you Lord for your great, unending, all-consuming love for me. I love you, Father.
Below you’ll find a selection of different challenges around the theme of ‘thankfulness’. You can choose to do one or all of them, for just one day or every day this week. The decision is yours…
Spend only £1 on all the food you eat it today
Have a free day, no luxuries
Have a screen free day
Miss last weeks devotional? Catch up here.