Inspiration, postaday

Acceptable Fasting – A time when God will listen

Matthew 6:17-18; 9:15

Daily Bread #15

when you fastWhat is an acceptable fast? An acceptable fast is worship in which a follower of God chooses to abstain from physical comforts (food, other physical attraction that appeal/satisfies our lives in this world only) for an extended period of time and earnestly seek God for piety, nearness, wisdom, guidance, and strength. It is that period of time in which the individual could be seeking forgiveness, confessing sins, or calling out to God for help. It is an act of worship in which a  denial of self shows the extent to which a person is prepared to go in order for God to respond favorably to him. Fasting with prayer is also an expression of deep humility on the part of the worshipper as he seeks to make the will of God the goal for his life.

It is the sincerity of the fast that makes that period of intense praying acceptable to God. This spiritual exercise is designed to affect our relationship with God in a positive way. What are some benefits we can derive from fasting?

  1. The discipline of fast provides a means through which God empowers that person to break through any stronghold that Satan might use against him (Matt. 4:2-11).
  2. God chose fasting for His covenant people as a way by which they could return to Him (Joel 2:12-13). “Yet even now… return to me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, and with mourning, and rend your hear and not your garment.”
  3. Fasting is a way of saying to God, “I am willing to give up the physical in order to enrich my spiritual walk God.”
  4. Fasting is a time when we engage in spiritual activities (singing to God, reading scripture, praying) more than anything else.
  5. Fasting expresses our humility while showing our total dependence on God.
  6. Jesus says, “When you fast…, your heavenly Father will reward you” (Matt. 6:16-18).

The Christians in Antioch were worshipping God and fasting when the Holy Spirit intervened.  Here is the actual reading, “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them’” (Act 13:1 ESV). God responded by providing guidance concerning how Barnabas and Paul should be prepared for a work that God had called them to. This had to be a strong encouragement for the brethren when God responded so favorably to them.

The Bible also provides us with good examples on how men should be appointed as elders within a local congregation. Paul and Barnabas used prayer and fasting by which they appointed overseers in every church. These were acts of humility (the appointment of overseers did not begin and end with them) while expressing their total dependence on God. But what is the point of these examples in Acts 13 and 14? One does not have to search the new covenant of Christ, the New Testament, to see if we have an explicit command about fasting.  We should be mindful that the covenant we are under teaches also by examples.  We should always be mindful that Jesus expects those who follow Him to live a life of fast.

  1. Acceptable fast begins with a desire to reach out to God. It could be for help in a time of crisis, confessing sins, seeking guidance and wisdom or just be empowered to wage war against the enemy of darkness.
  2. Acceptable fast in one that follows the guidelines that are given to us in the bible in order to reach God.
  3. Acceptable fast is one that says, in action, I am willing to give up anything to make God and His will a reality in my life.
  4. Acceptable fast is that bridge that we cross by letting go of self so that God may take hold of us, and use us for His glory.

♦♦♦

Nigel McPhersonNigel McPherson is a minister at the Beltway Church of Christ, 3600 Davis Boulevard, Camp Springs, MD 20746.

The Beltway Church of Christ is located in the Washington, DC metropolitan area in Prince George’s County, MD near Joint Base Andrews.

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