So I mentioned yesterday that I am excited about fasting. That’s kind of weird, right? I’ve been preparing my mind for this for awhile now, and so as I go through my day I am thinking about adding a little decaf to wean myself off coffee and eating as much chocolate as possible before the fast starts! Yes, I admit it, I love food. But I love Jesus more. And I know from my experience with fasting, that the benefits are worth the effort and temporary self-deprivation. Besides, if we think of fasting as just self-deprivation, we totally miss the point.

In the Bible, people fasted for many reasons, and fasting was a normal part of the community spiritual year, as well as personal spiritual practice. It is a time to abstain from certain foods or practices, in order to dedicate oneself to prayer and seeking God. Fasting is a time to allow what we habitually seek (like food) to be a reminder to turn to God and depend on Him instead. The purpose is to work a transformation in your own spirit and soul. It in no way manipulates God into giving you a certain result, but as we intentionally open ourselves up to God, there are certain benefits that will come from time spent with Him, such as clarity regarding his purposes, increase of faith, personal revelation toward healthy change, and God’s spiritual intervention in matters beyond our control.

Why did they fast in the Bible?

  • as part of mourning or repentance (Moses, David, Ninevah)
  • in seeking specific divine intervention, protection, healing, or deliverance (Daniel, Esther, Paul)
  • before or after a time of spiritual intensity (Jesus, Matt 4; Elijah during great spiritual oppression)
  • before making a big spiritual decision or shift (Acts 9:9, 10:30, 13:1-5)

Fasting helps us “look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor 4:18 ESV).

Fasting is about SEEKING FREEDOM, not primarily about seeking restriction. We engage in a temporary restriction in order to gain lasting spiritual freedom, and hopefully some healthier patterns of living: physically, emotionally, and in our thought patterns and perspectives.

Fasting is about turning away from “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life. [For these are] not from the Father but from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:16-17 ESV).

In fasting we declare, “I want Jesus more.” 

Our theme Scripture for our church’s Month of Dedication is Isaiah 58. Verses 6-7 say, “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of wickedness and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is 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?”

Taking our lead from these scriptures, each week in March has a main focus.

Week 1: Loose the bonds

Week 2: Let the Oppressed go free

Week 3: Share with the hungry, homeless, and naked

Week 4: Do not hide yourself from your family

Just as each person’s relationship with God is different, so I am sure each persons Dedication will look a little different. But as we go along together, as a point of unity, we’ll have some specific things we will invite people to do together, as a way of Turning To God and Turning From things that keep us bound.

For today, I’d like to invite you to ask God about where in your life you’d enjoy a little more freedom, and ask yourself, what steps are you willing to take to get it?

 
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