By: Pastor ODC
Aaaah!!! Can’t you hear it? There is a collective sigh of relief, a great exhale echoing from sanctuaries across this country, as several churches are concluding their 21- day collective fast. Can’t you hear the sentiments of these prayer warriors? Sentiments that range from, “I didn’t think I was going to make it!” to “I can’t wait to get home because there’s a piece of chocolate cake with my name on it!” Questions? Why are we so excited to get to the end of our fast? Why are we so quick to abort the discipline we practiced during our fast and return to indulging in our fleshly desires? Why do we fast so intensely for the first 21 days and never consider fasting individually or collectively for the remaining 344 days of the year? Seriously, why do we find it so difficult to practice this enriching spiritual discipline that opens us to receive from the riches of God through Christ?
Jesus makes it clear that He expects for us to fast. Jesus desires that His followers fast routinely, not periodically and definitely not once a year. One day Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees because His disciples did not fast as John the Baptist disciples had. Jesus replied, “As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day” (Mark 2:19b – 20, ESV). Friends, today is that day! While the bridegroom (Christ) is away, we should fast and pray. Yes, Jesus commands us to fast and fast often! Furthermore, Jesus told us that some things could only be accomplished through prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29, KJV). Moreover, Jesus gave us the example of prayer and fasting at the opening of his ministry, He practiced this discipline in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights (Matthew 4/Luke 4). Fasting is a spiritual discipline that all mature believers should exercise regularly for our good and for God’s glory. Consider the following spiritual rewards of fasting:
- Recognizing and discerning God’s voice within the chaos of our crazy world.
- Refreshing our minds, bodies, and spirits in the presence of God as we are detoxed of ungodly thoughts and actions.
- Reprioritizing our priorities, preventing physical and spiritual burnout.
- Retrieving power to do great works for the glory of God that require supernatural strength.
- Receiving answers to personal questions that weigh heavy on our hearts and minds.