READ: Matthew 6:16-18
- Fasting (not eating for a specified period of time) was a common Jewish practice. There were required fasts in the Jewish law. Many of their fasts were related to times of national crisis or personal tragedy. The idea was to focus one’s entire attention on God. It was to be a reminder that we were not in charge of our own lives nor were we dependent on anyone or anything other than God.
- Sometimes fasting was done to free time for more prayer. But, mostly, it was done to be an honor to God that men could curb their appetites and cultivate their relationship with the Father. Outside of the Gospels and Acts, there is nothing said about fasting in the New Testament. It doesn’t appear to have warranted comment in any of the letters to the churches or individuals to whom letters were written. That could indicate that it was not an expectation; or, that it was not an issue.
- In any case, fasting is a private practice that is impossible to notice (unless you are with someone at a meal). So, to be noticed, you have to go out of your way to make it clear that you are fasting. Jews would make themselves look haggard so people could tell they had skipped their meals. Once again, Jesus calls for private devotion, not public piety. The heart needs to fast if it needs to fast. But to fast for attention is to miss the point altogether.
- Describe your experiences with fasting.
- Why would Christians choose to fast today?
- How does fasting help one’s devotional/spiritual life?
PRAY: Thank God for His attendance to your daily needs. Pray that you can be more concerned about God’s response than men’s. Commit to a growing personal relationship with God.