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  1. Like any human action that is a response to God’s teaching the act itself is not the key to pleasing God. In fact, fasting can become a source of irritation and even separation between man and God when man is practicing without heart.
  2. Fasting in both the Old and New Testaments is practiced both publicly and privately.
  3. The main message of fasting is: "Something is larger in value, importance, danger, or emotional impact that what it would appear on the surface." That "something" could be a decision that needs to be made, a battle that needs to be fought, a sin that needs to be mourned, a spiritual discipline in need of development, a loss that needs to be mourned, or honor that should be shown.

Biblical Passages on Fasting (grouped by main headings)

Awareness of Sin: Confession and Repentance

  1. 1 Samuel 7:2-6
  2. Joel 2:12-15
  3. Jonah 3:4-10

Mourning a loss

  1. 2 Samuel 1:10-12

Pleading a Cause: Demonstrating earnestness in asking God for assistance

  1. 2 Chronicles 20:1-22
  2. Ezra 8:21-23
  3. Esther 4:12-17
  4. Nehemiah 1:1-11
  5. Daniel 9:3-19

Preparation for a Mission: Clearing your life of worldly distractions for spiritual clarity

  1. Matthew 4:2

Honoring God: Deepening your worship of Him and relationship with Him

  1. Matthew 6:16-18
  2. Luke 2:36-37

Seeking guidance: Appointing spiritual leaders

  1. Acts 13:1-3
  2. Acts 14:21-23

Should Christians fast today?

  1. Yes! Because of the teachings of Jesus
    Matthew 6:16-17
    Matthew 9:14-15
    Matthew 17:20-21
  2. Yes! Because we have examples of the church fasting.
    Acts 13:1-3
    Acts 14:21-23
  3. Yes! Because Paul fasted as a minister of Christ.
    2 Corinthians 11:23-28
    1 Corinthians 11:1
  4. The least we can say is that it would not be wrong or inappropriate for Christians to fast today.

Why should Christians fast?

  1. People fast today for various reasons –
    Health reasons – weight, heart, diabetes
    Without planning – time of grief, stress, sorrow
    Trying to gain some kind of self-control
  2. Christians should fast, because there times we are in need of divine help.
    See the section above – Biblical Passages on Fasting (page 1)

When should Christians fast?

  1. When there are occasions requiring divine help – temptations, decisions, serious illness
  2. When the congregation is making an important decision – sending a missionary, appointing elders

How should Christians fast?

  1. Not to be seen of men – Matthew 6:16-18
  2. Not as some regular ritual – Matthew 9:14-17
  3. Not without true repentance – Isaiah 58:3-9
  4. Not just because it sounds like a neat idea.
  5. But – Follow the suggestions in the Conclusion and Action Steps section (page 3)

What are the temptations that may accompany fasting?

Fasting could degenerate into an activity that originates with the desires, expectations, and choices of man, instead of the will of God.

  1. Isaiah 58:1-14

Fasting could be a quest for approval of people or to establish spiritual superiority.

  1. Matthew 6:16-18
  2. Luke 18:9-15

Fasting when we should be rejoicing.

  1. Matthew 9:14-15

Conclusion and Action Steps

  1. Jesus assumed that fasting would be part of our life and indispensible.
  2. Jesus taught how to fast, he assumed we would fast.
  3. Several options in fasting –
    A. Partial fast – one meal a day.
    B. Focus fast – No distractions (TV, radio, reading) Just Bible and prayer.
    C. Total fast – one day – no food – just water and required medications
    D. Item fast – omit one item or category of foods from your diet
  4. Practical Suggestions
    With any fast – drink lots of water.
    If food is eaten – keep it nutritious, bland, and limited quantity.
    When breaking the fast – got slow – fruits, bland foods.
    Keep a journal of your day – times of prayer, Bible study, meditation, etc.
    Start slow – Don’t dive in too deep, too soon.
    Make sure you have the time (clear calendar) without interference.

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