A Time for Prayer and Fasting.
Fasting is not high on the priority list for many Christians today, which is a shame, because today is when we need to fast more than ever.
Fasting is not fun, I’m not going to lie. I like food and drink just like everyone else. And the idea of going without coffee for an extended period of time can be more frightening than going without food! But just for these reasons I make it a point to fast at least once a year, usually with my church. Most churches have some kind of fasting either at beginning of the year or during easter or something like that. Because of this I have developed that habit of fasting at the beginning of the year regardless if my church does it or not. I feel like it is an important time of denying the flesh, getting my mind and heart in the right place, and reseting my body, especially in regards to caffeine. Many of us become way too dependent upon the drug and to go without it for a while is important.
Besides this, for many people, their stomach is their god. If their stomach tells them it wants something, they bow and fetch it as fast as possible, sparing no expense in getting it what it wants. Many people treat the restaurant like the church, attending very regularly, faithfully, complete with rituals and offerings—all to the god of their own belly. But we as Christians are not to be this way. We do not serve our bellies, but the living God. He comes first and not the coffee cup or the dinner plate—or the breakfast table. And when we offer up our food for an extended period of time, we declare that the Lord is our God and not our belly.
It is in part because of the church’s lack of faithfulness to God in regards to things like this that our world is in such a mess. We have a promise from God, that if we, God’s people, would humble our selves and pray, and seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways, that He would heal our land. Yet we see that our land is not healed, but becoming more broken as the days go by. We can point the finger all day, and perhaps rightfully so, but we must also point the finger at ourselves
How to Fast
Fasting is simple: stop eating! I know that in our modern world people make excuses for everything under the sun, and they try to make anything difficult as easy as possible. Fasting in the modern world is often someone ‘giving up social media’ or, like one pastor, who announced that he was ‘giving up Starbucks for a month’ (not coffee, only Starbucks). Some people try a ‘Daniel Fast,’ which is fine, but only if it is done in the spirit that Daniel did it. Daniel ate ‘no pleasant bread,’ which means he ate no pleasant food at all. In other words, he didn’t eat anything for the sake of eating, but just to maintain the strength he needed to mourn and pray. I know that a lot of people on Daniel fasts have not fasted in that spirit. I can point to myself as an example: Once on a Daniel fast I ate the one of the most delicious ‘chicken’ sandwiches I ever had—except it wasn’t made from real chicken. It was a vegan chicken sandwich. And it was really delicious! Technically I didn’t break the fast. Some fast that was!
The truth is, a real Daniel fast can be more difficult than fasting the conventional way. With a conventional fast (no food, only water), hunger pains go away after a few days. After overcoming the initial shock of going without caffeine, many people fair well on a conventional fast for many days. Most people who do not work labor intensive jobs could easily start their fast on a Friday afternoon, suffer through the weekend, and then work a week while fasting with little trouble. And it would do them really well. Of course, the best option would to be to take off for a while to fast. Many people can do that, they just choose not to.
Another option is to fast certain meals during the day. This is what the apostles likely did on a regular basis. Meals often took a lot of time to prepare and to skip one to fast would give a person a lot of time to pray, meditate, and read the word of God. This kind of fasting would probably do really well for many people.
In any case, it is important that we fast. The key is to stop thinking about it, stop dreading it, and just do it. Suffer through it if you have to, but be obedient to God. Jesus said, ‘When you fast…’, showing that it should be a regular part of our lives. If fasting is not in some way a part of our lives, we are being disobedient to Christ.
More than No Food
Of course, fasting, per se, is no virtue. The pharisees fasted, the pagans fast, and even worldly people fast from time to time for health reasons. This shouldn’t discourage us from fasting, but it should show us that fasting for the Christian is deeper than just going without food. The idea behind fasting is to deny ourselves for the betterment of others, especially in regards to the kingdom of God. When we fast, we should declare, “Not my will, but thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” and then set ourselves to do it. Fasting is a tool to get our mind and body in a place to serve God and practice godliness. Unless it is that, it is no more than a self-righteous source of spiritual pride; a stench in the nostrils of God.
I would challenge you to plan a fast. Don’t wimp out on something easy. Do yourself damage, make sure it hurts the flesh, make yourself feel the pain of going without food. Beat your body under, as Paul says, make it subject to you. Make sure your god is not your belly, but the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the maker of all good things, the One who gives us all things to enjoy. Of course, use the wisdom of God and consult godly council if you are uncertain about what to do. The body was designed by God to not only endure fasting, but to make very good use of it. It will help your spirit, your soul, and your body.
Hal Chaffee Ministries
PO Box 1546
Elkton, MD 21922
Visit halchaffee.com/partnergive to give online.