Have you fasted recently? When was the last time you went a period of time without food or a specific thing? We’re not talking about forgetting to eat a breakfast or forgetting to check Instagram at night. When was the last time that you actually fasted from something for the specific purpose of drawing closer to God?
Recently, we heard a tremendous message from the very talented and gifted teacher Renee Groff. In this teaching, she dives into how fasting is a verb and is an action that needs to be taken on our part. It’s not enough to read about fasting or to simply talk about fasting. We need to ACT, making fasting a practice of our life with God. Matthew 6:16-18 states this:
“When you fast, do not be somber like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they already have their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that your fasting will not be obvious to men, but only to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret.”
Twice in this scripture, it says “when you fast…” and not “if you fast…” Do you notice the difference between the two? The latter is passive, implying that God isn’t expecting or anticipating us to fast. But the former implies that you are expected to fast, all because of a key word: when. Jesus gives direction on what to do WHEN fasting because he assumes we will fast in some way. It takes action and commitment on our part to obey him!
Also in this passage, you see that we are to fast privately. So, why the talk about fasting and the desire to see Lifeway Church corporately fast? One reason is highlighted by a quote by D.L. Moody:
“If you say ‘I will fast when God lays it on my heart,’ you never will. You are too cold and indifferent to take the yoke upon you.”
Fasting is often unpleasant in the moment, so it’s tempting to put it off. That coldness and indifference rises in our hearts when we focus on the short-term discomfort and fail to see the amazing spiritual gain that will result. Isn’t it a reality that some positive behaviors only happen when we’re continually reminded or prodded to do them? For example, you have to remind your children to clean their rooms, fix their beds, or do their homework. And if you don’t, they will likely try to find a way out of doing the action. The same can be said about fasting.
At some point, what we decide to fast from – be it food, or from specific things – becomes all the more enticing. It will be more prevalent to us, and more tempting for us. Suddenly, a slice of pizza looks like a gourmet meal from a five-star restaurant, and you can’t seem to say no. Or you feel like you need to know what happens next on your favorite television show, or just need to check your Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, or other social media. The temptation to quit the fast, and give in to the fleshly desire, is so strong at this point. And that’s the reason we are talking about this; we are doing a corporate fast because there is strength in numbers.
There is something that’s quite powerful when you’re fasting with people for a common cause. Not only do you have a built-in support system – a group of people who will pray for you, and who will encourage you during your fast – but amazing results can happen when you partner with others. There is a strength in numbers.
There is a story of farmer who had two horses. The farmer wanted to see which one of them was stronger. The first horse was able to pull 700 pounds, while the second horse managed 800 pounds. Then, the farmer decided to have the horses work together to see what they could pull. Simple math would suggest that they’d be able to pull 1,500 pounds; however, you’d be wrong to think that. Combined, these two horses were able to pull 3,000 pounds; a massive increase in strength working together. When we work alone, our strength is limited. When we partner with others, our strength is exponentially more than we could imagine. With God’s leadership, we can accomplish anything.
So, we as Lifeway Church have recently completed our corporate fast. It’s been a way for us all to start the new year on the right foot by recalibrating the focus of our lives toward our God. Fasting is an action that requires continued discipline to stay the course. We’re anticipating exciting testimonies of what God has done in the lives of our church family. We encourage you to consider how and when you might fast in obedience to scripture and your life’s pursuit of God.
To listen to the message that inspired this post, click the below link:
To listen to other message series, visit the Lifeway media page at https://hillcitychurch.life/media/