October 7, 2019: Day Two of Lakeland’s Great Adventure: Directions for Fasting.
Matthew 6:16-18 (NIV)
16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,
18 so that it will not be obvious to men 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.
The more I read of the scriptures, the more I have understood that God desires that each of us work out our relationship with God. There are some parameters about how to fast given to us in the Scripture, but we have no other directions in Scripture about what to pray for or how long to pray or how long to go without food.
There are not many directions about how to observe a fast. What should we do when we do not have many instructions about how to do something? Some would advocate that we should not do it; this cannot be the answer because we are commanded to fast; this is not an option for any follower of Christ.
Another question that we need an answer for is, “When should we start, and when should we stop?” Once again, the Scriptures are silent.
We know that fasting is something we should do as part of our walk with Christ, but this is about all we know.
Let us consider what we do know from this text. Jesus tells us when we fast; we are not to look somber.
What is the reason we should not look somber? We find our answer in another part of Scripture from the Psalms.
Psalm 84:10 (NIV)
Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
If the Psalmist is correct, that one day in the courts of God is better than a thousand elsewhere, then we should consider this opportunity to commune with God to be more inviting and rewarding than to be off on a Caribbean cruise. Job tells us that he esteemed one word from God more important than his necessary physical food. (Job 23:12)
Fasting is for our joy; it is a relationship that is deep and personal that we will find such reward and satisfaction. This fasting command is only designed to lead us to rejoice more and more in our Great God, and it is designed to help us see Christ as our true and lasting reward, not some command we must obey.
Knowing this truth, I have included a prayer you might want to pray as you enter into this season of fasting.
As you set your heart to seek after God in your time of fasting, you might want to start with this confession in prayer,
Father in Heaven, I want to delight in this time I have set aside to commune with You I ask that your Holy Spirit would prepare my heart and mind to meet with you. Fill me with joy in your presence as I read Your Word and consider what you would have me do this day.
I want no other love, no other joy, no other treasure than is found in You. I sanctify myself this day that you would work in and through me for your great glory and my highest good.
For these next twenty-one days, I ask you to guide me that I may come forth refreshed, renewed, and stronger to walk with you. May you answer the prayers of all my brothers and sisters in the faith are praying these three weeks.
Now, as I open Your Word Holy Spirit, may Your Word breathe new life in my soul. I count this as my greatest joy to be here with you. Amen!
Dear Saints, I am praying for you that the Lord Jesus will reveal himself to you in more significant and more glorious ways than He has in the past. Let us press on to know this God that has pursued us throughout all the days of our lives.