I was very indecisive about whether or not I should blog about my first real fasting experience after reading the passage in Matthew 6:16-18. I don’t want this blog to sound or be self-righteous, legalistic, or prideful in any way. But I believe that what the Lord revealed to me this week through my fasting is something that should be shared with the body of Christ. So before I get into this blog, please know that fasting this week has been a very intimate experience between myself and the Lord; no one else. What He brought to my attention is something that is very important to me and my walk as a Christian, so I am going to share that with you and explain the correlation between fasting and our spiritual walk.
To start, I want to make clear exactly what fasting is and how it was used throughout the bible. Fasting, by definition from Dictionary.com and Google’s definition, means to abstain from all or some kinds of food or drink, especially as a religious observation. Growing up, I had the idea that you can literally fast from anything; movies, TV, sweets, events, communities, etc. And in some ways I believe that you can and should still do this. But something I have learned is that in saying I was going to “fast from social media for two weeks”, I was in a way lessening the value of what true fasting is. Now, that’s not to say that fasting from things such as social media is wrong, or sinful. I don’t believe it is sinful at all, but I think in order for us to truly value and understand the meaning of fasting, we must consider what it really is.
Reading in Matthew chapter 4, it talks about how Jesus himself fasted for 40 days and nights in order to resist temptation. Righteously, He gave up eating in order to dedicate His thoughts and prayers completely to the Lord. Fasting is such a powerful tool in our spiritual arsenal, but it is to be done with discretion and not be something that we boast about to others. I wanted to bring this up not only to show His perfect example of fasting, but to remind us that Jesus didn’t just say “when you fast” (Matthew 6:16) referring to us, but He also fasted Himself, which shows the importance of what fasting does for our spiritual growth. He desired intimate time with the Lord through prayer as well as fasted in order to accomplish this.
This week, I fasted from food for the first time in my life and let me tell you, it was a powerful experience. Again, I do not want to boast about it, nor do I want to make myself look good or righteous in doing so. During my fast, I never once told anyone that I was doing it, because it truly was a time that I wanted to spend in prayer and in communion with the Lord. And the last few hours of fasting, I believe the Holy Spirit awakened me to the reality of how closely related fasting is to our walks with Christ and it nearly brought me to tears.
I would love to do a side by side comparison between both fasting and our walks as followers of Christ in order to give a better representation of the two.
- Decision and action – I believe that in both cases, fasting and our lives as Christians, it all starts with the conviction of the Holy Spirit that prompts us to make a decision and to take action. “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” John 16:8. With me, I had been struggling with a lot of temptation and was also faced with a decision I had no idea how to handle. I had be reading about fasting in the Word and it allowed me to remember the importance of it. I felt convicted to do so in order to focus my thoughts and heart on prayer and on the Lord. This applies to our spiritual walk as well. When we are faced with trial or difficulty, the Holy Spirit is quick to remind us of God’s love and power, and often is what leads us to not only repentance, but a change of heart.
- All around me – During the period of fasting, I noticed that the choice I had made to give up eating and substitute it with prayer became a lot harder to do when I saw so much food around me. Smelling the food cooking or seeing food commercials, it really made my stomach growl and I craved food that much more. I believe that this is the same with sin. We live in a sinful world that openly embraces the things that those who are in Christ desperately try to refrain from. “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’” 1 Corinthians 15:33. I have noticed that, similar to the food during fasting, since we are surrounded by sex-saturated media, by gossip, by drunkenness and openly accepted disobedience to God, it definitely makes it harder for our flesh to refrain from engaging in the sin that is all around us.
- Physical craving – I have been hungry before, but during this time of fasting, I don’t think I have experienced my body aching for food quite like that. Again, this is so similar to the spiritual battles that war against our flesh. The fleshly desires we go through, especially when they are sexually related, cause us to literally yearn for “pleasure” found in sin. “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41. Just like my stomach desperately wanting food, our flesh does this with sin. It is only through the Holy Spirit that we are able to conquer our flesh and triumph in Him.
- Just a little taste – Towards the end of the time I had been fasting, I began to look at foods on a scale of worst to best and think to myself, “Well its only a little.” But when I made the commitment to the Lord to refrain from eating for a certain amount of time, I was talking about all food. Eating one small chip is still food, no matter the quantity, and it was going back on what I dedicated to do. This is one of the biggest correlations I found between both fasting and sin. We tend to toy around with sin, entertaining those thoughts and we begin trying to convince ourselves “Well it is only a little.” And like I thought to myself, “it is just one chip, it’s not like I am eating a double-cheeseburger with bacon and all the helpings, its one little chip.” Sin is sin. In the perfect eyes of the Lord, it doesn’t matter what sin is committed, it is unholy and unrighteous. “All unrighteousness is sin…” 1 John 5:17. Now, I know that sometimes we can think things such as “it is just a little lie…. I only gossiped because I really needed to vent … I only looked at them with lust, I didnt actually do anything…” Small things we so easily dismiss is held just as poorly in the sight of the Lord as any other sin.
I could keep going about how similar the two are, but that is not the point of this blog. I believe what the Lord was gently speaking to my heart through all of this is our desperate need for prayer and fellowship with Him in each and every aspect of our lives. Whether that be fasting from food and instead of eating we commit that time to praying, or if we are struggling with temptation and sin and need to fall to our knees in prayer, it is all about intimacy with the Lord and dependency on Him. How amazing is it to see the outline laid before us through the image and reality of fasting?
Scripture also gives warning against fasting for ourselves instead of to pray and commit time to the Lord. It should not be a ritualistic practice or done out of obligation, but truly led by the Holy Spirit and should be a complete dedication to prayer and communion with God. “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.” Matthew 6:16-18. This is the reason I didn’t know if I should post this blog or not, because I truly do not want to boast at all, but, rather, share the experience on a biblical standpoint and prayerfully speak wisdom to you the way the Holy Spirit did for me.
I would encourage you to pray about the subject of fasting and really wait for the Lord to guide you to do this. I pray that if this is something you decide to do, that you find a closeness with the Lord through prayer like you never have before. Please know that this blog was indeed meant to shine light on the wisdom given by the Holy Spirit. The connection between fasting and sin was really an “ah ha!” moment for me and though I still have a lot to work on, this helped me to understand sin and how to overcome it a little bit more. I pray it does the same for you. Have a wonderful day everyone and be reminded about the power in Jesus’ name and how much of an impact prayer truly has. God bless!