There are a lot of Christians who grumble whenever they hear they or the church is embarking on a fast. Why do they feel that way? They do feel like that because it is the period they will shed all the weight they have gained during the year. Another reason is that most Christians see fasting as another church ritual which they have to go through to avoid feeling guilty. As to whether they will achieve any results with the fast, they do not really know.
Why is it necessary to fast?
Fasting is important because Jesus Christ Himself observed it. He embarked on a dry fast for 40 days and nights (Matthew 4:2) and was able to resist the devil’s temptations.
Fasting brings about humility in believers (Psalm 69:10).
It also increases the level of self-control in the believer (1 Corinthians 7:5).
People fasted in the Bible and they got answers to their prayers (Ezra 8:23). These are a few reasons why Christians ought to fast and pray.
Are there special kinds of fast that an individual can select?
There is the dry fast which Jesus Christ Himself practiced.
Daniel in the Old Testament avoided delicacies, meat and red wine when he was fasting (Daniel 10:3). There is also the type of fast that individuals abstain from their favourite dishes.
What are the steps to take in order to have an effectual fast?
- It is important to have a focus and an aim for fasting. Before you embark on this spiritual exercise, note down the reason(s). If it is a collective fast, agree on the fast’s focus.
- Have some scripture to back what you will be praying for during the fast. Read the scripture, memorise and pray with it.
- Reflect on the scripture during the day. If you are employed, break from your schedule to meditate on the word and pray.
- When breaking the fast, find a quiet place to meditate on the verses you have read in the day and pray before you break the fast.
What should be avoided when fasting?
- Chatting unnecessarily – This is the time you need to read and meditate on the word of God.
- Announcing you are fasting – This is the period some Christians announce to the world they are fasting therefore they need to be excused and sympathized with but the Bible in Mathew 6:18 asks us to refrain from that.
- Making it a mere ritual – A number of Christians make fasting a ritual; something they are doing because the entire church is involved. Avoid this mistake. Have expectations!
What is the proper way of Fasting?
The Bible summarises that in Isaiah 58:3:9 –
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 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?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.