Someone recently sent me a message asking such a GREAT question: “When is it appropriate to fast?”. I love that question for several reasons:
-This person already understands that fasting is GOOD and NORMAL in Christian life.
-They clearly want to undertake this practice and do it right.
Let me share the passage that gripped me years ago and set me on a course to make fasting a normal part of my life.
In the Sermon on the Mount (Christianity 101), just after Jesus teaches his friends about how to pray, he says this:
Matthew 6:16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
And the phrase that caught me was, “when you fast“ . . . See, Jesus was making an assumption that we WOULD fast; that it would be NORMAL. Then, He goes on to say, basically, “when you fast, ACT normal”! Love it. And it gets even better — when we DO, the Father will reward us!!
Stop. Right. There. Some of you just winced. You think that it’s not really “spiritual” to want or expect a reward from God; to expect God to give something. Well, look, JESUS SAID IT! It’s right there in black and white, “God, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” AWESOME! If Jesus is using these words to teach and encourage us, then they are UTTERLY spiritual, the essence of Good and True!! I don’t know about you, but I LIKE rewards– we are made to be motivated by reward! That really makes me wanna fast!
So, to the question at hand. When? As I’ve pondered this, there really is one general answer that comes to mind for me: It’s appropriate to fast, anytime you want to seek God in a more dedicated, concerted way. Many people will fast regularly, a few meals; a day or two every week. Other times it’s good to set aside “seasons” of fasting (a few days to a few weeks). There are actually several different Biblical examples of fasting occasions:
-To ask for God’s mercy in averting disaster or destruction
-To repent for living in a backslidden or lukewarm state
-To prepare for times of intense ministry
– To seek specific direction from the Lord
-Because you love Jesus, and desire His return
So, wanna fast? Check out this very helpful and practical guide: http://www.ccci.org/training-and-growth/devotional-life/personal-guide-to-fasting/index.htm
Be blessed! He IS GOOD, and He is a REWARDER of those earnestly seek Him! (Hebrews 11:6)