Several years ago, I fasted for the first time in my life. Our church was engaged in a Bible study that focused on reconnecting with God. One suggestion was a fast and this resonated with me. I was wrestling with several spiritual concerns and I felt I was at an impasse. A fast seemed to be an ideal remedy but I wanted to do this with the proper attitude. The words of Jesus Christ echoed through my mind about fasting in secret and not telling anyone, so as to not appear self-righteous or fasting only to impress others. After researching the topic a bit more, I came across a practical suggestion to inform your pastor, since he is your spiritual teacher in the church and could pray and advise you. I thought the suggestion reasonable and made an appointment to see him.
A few days later, my pastor welcomed me and I shared my request with him. “I know there is nothing in the Bible that states that I am required do this, but, as my pastor, I thought you should know.”
My pastor nodded and smiled. “Yes, I agree with you. I appreciate your trust and confidence in sharing this with me. Would you be willing to share your objectives for this fast so that I can pray for you during this time?”
I was pleased by his suggestion and shared the spiritual burdens that were pressing upon my heart. He was the only one who knew I was fasting. Not even my family, who were away on a trip, knew of my fast. My fast lasted for two days and during the time, my hunger forced me to rely solely upon God to nourish and sustain me. I concluded the fast, pleased that God continually spoke to me and comforted me when I dedicated the effort to Him alone. He answered my prayers and brought me into a deeper level of relationship with Him.
‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’ “I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me.”
Isaiah 58:3-4 (NLT)
Fasting is far more than a physical endurance test. It is a spiritual awakening, a rebirth, and recommitment of our devotion to God. God, through the prophet Isaiah, definitively provided the guidelines for the proper attitude when one fasts.
“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.”
Isaiah 58:6:7 (NLT)
No matter what our physical actions are, whether we fast, offer money, or give sacrifices of our time to God, it is the motivations of our heart that matter to Him. What is our attitude? Do we re-dedicate our lives to serving God, seeking a closer relationship with him by acknowledging that our sustenance, our very existence, rests in Him? As I fasted, I was forced to sincerely seek God’s guidance by stripping myself of all my selfish ambitions, even denying myself sustenance, all to completely rely upon Him.
Yes, my pastor knew but most importantly, God knew.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.