In the last couple of posts, I shared what I believe are three major things we can proactively do to cultivate our relationship with God. I explained that they are things that we should do often, and if we do them the way God wants us to do them, no one but us and God will even know that we’re doing it. First I talked about reading our Bible, then prayer, and in this segment, I thought I’d highlight a practice that I believe is the most powerful; and that is fasting. Very few people enjoy fasting, but it is something that Jesus calls us to do, and he wants us to do it in secret. In Matthew 6:16-18 Jesus says:
“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. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 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.”
This is probably a practice that American believers do the least. Some have never attempted it. But Jesus tells us that we are to fast. Fasting, is simply denying ourselves food, for a period of time, as we focus with pin-point precision on our Lord and Savior. Some might fast their lunch during the day. Others might fast distractions like watching television, accessing cell phones or playing video games for a time. But I believe when Jesus refers to fasting he’s talking about denying ourselves all food, and drinking only water, for a period of time. I believe the longer we choose to fast in this way, the more God can use that time to do an amazing work in us, through us and for us. I’ve read, and heard stories, of unexplainable things happening during extended fasts; things like hearing the audible voice of God, literally feeling the hand of God, and even witnessing physical things moving by themselves in the room. If that sounds too wild for you, I challenge you not to put God in a box. His power is incredible, and I believe that fasting is the best way to fast-track an answer to our most pressing issues. I challenge you, if something is going on in your life that seems impossible to overcome, fast. Spend time alone with God as much as you can, abstain from eating any food, and poor out your heart to him until you hear an answer. Fasting was a way of life for Jesus and his disciples, and it should be for us as well.
Fasting is a practice that many Christians ignore, but the Bible encourages us to do it. I believe that it is a concentrated time of deep connection with our God. When fasting, every hunger pang reminds us of why we are denying ourselves. Our minds are continually on God and the reason for our fast. I usually fast when I really need to hear from God or see him move on my behalf. Sometimes I fast for a day, and others times I fast for several. But each time, I feel a closeness to God that can only come from fasting. I encourage you, if you haven’t fasted before, to make it a practice in your life. It is a directive from God, and it makes a difference in our relationship with him and whatever we’re going through in life.