Lent is here with us again and many Christians all around the world are fasting. A lot of people have questions about fasts and how they should be done. Hopefully this blog post will help to answer as many of those questions as possible and make fasting more meaningful for you as a Christian.
Why do we fast?
I also have a question for you- why do we work out? We are on a #FitFam craze. Everyone is working out, eating clean, detoxing, juicing and meeting at Aburi to climb the mountain over the weekend. Aside the drenched with sweat selfies and the ‘feel good’ experience, we work out because we want to keep our bodies healthy.
The Bible is littered with scriptures that show us that the people of God fasted. David fasted, Moses fasted, Daniel fasted, Ezra fasted, Jonah and the people of Nineveh fasted, Esther fasted, Nehemiah fasted, Jesus fasted, Jesus’ disciples fasted. Think of fasting as a spiritual workout. It keeps your spirit healthy and fit. Fasting keeps your flesh under.
You must have a purpose for fasting. Don’t fast just because someone says you should, or just because other people are fasting, or because your pastor roommate will give you the side eye for digging into Daavi’s Indomie while he is devouring the book of Ephesians as part of the fast the church is embarking on. Fasting is not a routine. It is not a ‘feel good’ exercise. In the New Testament, people fasted under these conditions: to minister to the Lord, to ordain men to the ministry, or to seek God in times of extreme danger. You always must have a purpose.
Ask yourself this: Why am I fasting today? Fast with a purpose.
Why do I have to give up food? (and all those other things)
Giving up food is just one of the things you do to keep your flesh under and your spirit on top. The Bible says in Galatians 5:17 that
‘For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.’
in Matthew 16:24 that
‘Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.’
and in Galatians 5:24 that
‘Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.’
That is why it is easy to go the whole day without eating or drinking anything on a regular day but your stomach will remind that it needs to be filled at 8 am on the day you decide to fast. Oh and it doesn’t help that everyone suddenly offers you food, your nose becomes super sensitive to smells and your body feels so weak .
Yes, by all means, give up food to ‘keep your flesh under’.
But here is the plot twist- it is not just food that you must give up. Give up anything that gives prominence to your flesh. If you stay away from food all day but spend the day engaging in foul talk on your boys boys group chat, you have not put the flesh under. If you stay away from food all day but you spend all day on Instagram updating your mental Instagram wedding goals list and gossiping about people’s wedding makeup instead of spending time in God’s presence, you have not put your flesh under. You have just starved. In mathematical terms, it is known as Cos90.
Fasting makes your spirit more sensitive to the presence of God. He is always there- you just become more aware of Him when you shut out the flesh.
What am I supposed to do with my ‘fasting time’?
Read His Word. If you don’t have time to read, listen to it as you go through the day. YouVersion provides audios of many Bible versions in many languages. Put the book of Ephesians or Romans on replay. Your spirit will pick up the ‘connection’. Meditate on His Word. (One of my preacher friends says that if you know how to worry, then you know how to meditate. Just turn the Word around in your head like you would with a problem) Spend time worshipping God. Listen to music. Resist the urge to gossip. Pray under your breath. Speak in tongues. Be kind. Give to the needy. Encourage someone. Keep your dial on a radio station that plays Christian music or sermon recordings. Make a YouTube playlist of worship songs. Cultivate the habit of listening to His voice so that when He speaks to you, you will know that it is Him. A child knows the voice of his Father. Jesus said, ‘My sheep know my voice.’ Do you know the voice of God? Spend time in His presence and you will. Move beyond the ‘Dear God, here is my shopping list’ kind of relationship.
Isaiah 58 is one of my favourite scriptures on fasting. I will share snippets of it. It makes for good reading as well. 🙂
3 Why have we fasted,’ they say,‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers.
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?
6“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
7Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you,and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness,and your night will become like the noonday.
11The Lord will guide you always;he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.
What happens after I break my fast?
Living in God’s presence is a habit you should cultivate, with or without a fast. Practise staying in the presence of God even when the fast is over. Skip meals if you have to, mute the group chat, stay off social media, stop gossiping, spend time with Him. Make God your friend. Learn from Him and of Him. Live a fasted life.
Remember that fasting doesn’t change God. It doesn’t make Him kinder or meaner. Fasting changes you. It helps you to control your flesh. It makes you more sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Everyday that your spirit wins the battle against your flesh is another day in which you have affirmed your new identity in Christ. Doing this often will get you to the point where you are no longer looking at the watch for it to be 6pm. You will be so engrossed with staying in His Presence and becoming more like Him.
He longs to fellowship with you. The time to fast is now.
God bless you for reading. May the Holy Spirit be with you as you embark on your next fast. Do subscribe to the blog so that you will get alerts as soon as the posts are published. Visit the Testimonies page to leave a testimony or to be encouraged by someone’s testimony. May we all press on so that ‘when we are tested with fire, our works will survive.’ (1 Corinthians 3:10-15)
In Christ, Keni.