If this is your first time seeing this, I started a Bible Study series about 2 weeks ago and intend to do it regularly. I almost posted last week, but wasn't sure if I was forcing it. I don't want to feel like I'm forcing a post and my heart isn't in it, but then I just now thought 'What if someone needed to hear what I skipped writing last week?' Hmm.
Anyways, today I want to go over some verses about Fasting. Typically at the beginning of the year, a lot of churches call for corporate fasts ranging from 3 to sometimes a whopping 100 days! I have to admit that mostly while in Atlanta, I partook in our annual 21-day fast, but wouldn't really fast throughout the year again. Additionally when I was fasting, I was not doing the prayer part - which essentially is either going on a hunger strike, or dieting (let's be honest). I also noticed that sometimes I wasn't paying attention to the spiritual part of it, but would excitedly wait to see how much weight I lost (you know you've done that before too, don't lie).
This year though I'm really trying to be more intentional with fasting. I'm not doing a corporate fast by the way, but using Youversion's 21-Day Fast plan to guide me. I don't know if I should bring up different kinds of fasts now, because that tends to cause arguments but if you want to discuss it, let me know in the comments and we'll have it next week.
The 3 passages I want to share are...
Isaiah 58:3-4: ‘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.
Verse 4 especially jumped out to me, because everyone knows that when you're hungry, you're irritable and the littlest things can annoy you. I'm a prime example here, because I find myself snapping at little things, being more emotional and even more sarcastic sometimes. I think while fasting, it's a good time to pray for an extra measure of meekness, gentleness, and kindness. Remember we're not fasting for ourselves.
Matthew 6:5-8: “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!
On the prayer portion, I guess it can be easy to try to impress people. Honestly though, on my part, I'm not sure how/why you'd want to show off via praying. Doesn't that defeat the purpose of prayer?
Matthew 6:16 - “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get."Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
Finally, a point to always remember is that fasting is not for showing off. Looking and being miserable so that others will say how pious, or spiritual or religious you are is not the way to go. You might also be complaining for complaining sake. I know I've been guilty of complaining about fasts before - how hungry I am, how much I miss TV, how I really just want some meat, etc. I'm not doing myself any favors by that. Of course, fasting CAN BE/IS hard and while it's easy to complain, from my devotional, it's better instead to admit to God or your prayer partner that you're having a tough time and pray for strength to complete your sacrifice.
What are your thoughts on fasting and prayer? I enjoyed reading this post by Lara about the topic.