“And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting....But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” Matthew 6:16-18 (NLT)
Fasting for the Purpose of Godliness
We are reading the Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life to learn and apply biblical behaviors that promote spiritual growth and godliness. Author Donald Whitney took us through the fairly common disciplines of bible intake, prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, and stewardship. But chapter nine focuses on fasting, a practice many Christians are unfamiliar with.
The biblical definition of fasting is a voluntary abstinence from all or some foods as a religious observance. Fasting isn’t deciding to start a weight-loss plan while cutting out a meal in an attempt to bring forth a spiritual experience. Fasting is purposely abstaining from food in devotion to God and His commandments in scripture.
By Whitney’s count, there are 77 biblical references to fasting. Since Christ uses scripture to tell us how to fast, it’s pretty clear He expects that we will. Here are just a few biblical reasons for fasting to guide you in aligning your motivation to godliness. Scripture reveals fasting as a way to: strengthen prayer (Ezra 8:23), seek God’s guidance (Acts 14:23), express repentance (Joel 2:12), humble oneself before God (Psalm 35:13), or demonstrate love and worship (Luke 2:37).
Strive to incorporate fasting in your journey to become more Christlike. Start small and skip a meal or two in devotion to our Lord. Remember, God only commanded the Israelites to fast for one day each year on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29-30). Are you willing to fast just one day for Christ this year?
You can read more about the gospel and discipline of fasting by Donald Whitney here!
Past Blogs: Manage Your Resources LIke Jesus, Prayer for the Purpose Godliness, Meditate on God’s Word, Discipline For the Purpose of Godliness, Discipline Requires Reading God's Word, Worship for the Purpose of Worship, & Evangelism for the Purpose of Godliness.