Prayer & Fasting
Part 3 - Pastor Gerald

In Part 2 we observed that Fasting and Prayer is not an outdated oddity that was practiced only in the Old Testament but according to the teaching of Jesus Fasting is an assumed practice for fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ (Matthew 6:16-18).

In the Bible, the people of God fasted for a variety of reasons:
  • They fasted when they were facing a crisis.
  • They fasted when they were seeking God's protection and deliverance.
  • They fasted when they were called to repentance and renewal.
  • They fasted when they were asking God for guidance.
  • They fasted as they humbled themselves in worship. 
THE DANGER IN THE DISCIPLINE OF FASTING

I wrote in part 1 that there is an inherent danger in fasting. It is the same danger that is found in the practice of any spiritual discipline. We can turn fasting into an end unto itself, rather than a means to an end. It can become just an external practice without a spiritual passion and we can depend on our fasting as a means to salvation and victory in our daily life. And sadly a good practice can become simply a habit without heart.

In Luke 18:12 Jesus relates this parable. It is the story of a Pharisee who bragged to God in prayer that he fasted twice a week. History records that Pharisees habitually fasted twice a week, usually on the 2nd and 5th days of the week. It just so happened that these two days were the major days for the Jewish market to be in operation and thus the streets would be full of merchants, farmers, house wives and other shoppers.

So, the religious display of the Pharisees would be put on public display drawing attention the Pharisees in their worship. Jesus condemned it. Fasting when done to be seen of man is detrimental.

Matthew 6:16-18 (NKJV)  â€śMoreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

So, we have the ability to take that which is sacred, holy, and designed to draw us to our Heavenly Father, and simply turn it into an empty mechanical, religious, show that we use to try and impress others of our spirituality.

Religiosity will always leave you empty and without spiritual development. But when practiced with love and devotion before the Father who sees in secret you will be reward openly.