Spiritual Disciplines – Fasting


Matthew 4:1-4

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Matthew 6:16-18

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Foundational Idea of Fasting

Feasting on the Bread of Life

I think the passage of Scripture in Matthew 4 is so important.  This passage teaches us that there is food other than just the stuff we put in our stomach.  We must also feed our souls before God.  And I think some of us are starving.

If you make fasting about the lack of food then you miss the whole point!!!  The purpose of fasting is to bring ourselves in humility and affliction before God, and to feast in his presence.

Fasting is one of the more important ways of practicing that self-denial required of everyone who would follow Christ. (Matthew 16:24) “Deny self” is a vague idea.  Fasting is a practical, concrete application of that idea.

Fasting is an issue of Christian freedom.  You don’t have to fast.  When I say, “Fasting is not required of the Christian life” please don’t hear, “Fasting is not important.”  Many of the most important things in life are not laws that we must follow.

Practically Speaking…

While fasting from Facebook, TV, internet, etc. is a good thing and probably a needed thing in our world today, when the Bible speaks about fasting it is referring to food.  There are many ways and degrees of fasting.  The normal practice of fasting is to abstain from all food, solid and liquid, but not from water.  Please know your own body.  You may need to speak with a medical professional before doing this.

Let me give you some examples of fasting durations.

  • Lunch fast – self-explanatory
  • 24-hour fast (miss 2 meals) – Example: You eat breakfast Monday and skip lunch and dinner.  Then you eat breakfast Tuesday.  It’s been 24 hours.
  • Waking day fast (36 hour fast) – Example: You eat dinner Monday night.  You don’t eat at all when you’re awake on Tuesday.  You eat breakfast Wednesday morning.  It’s been 36 hours of fasting.
  • 3-day fast – another common duration of fasting.
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