The Good News
article reprint—Fasting: A Spiritual Power Tool
GOOD NEWS FEATURE •
Reconciliation: The True Path to Healing and Salvation
he only thing most people knowabout asting is that it can be away to lose weight. But there’smuch more we need to understandabout asting than that.The Bible has much to say about thisvery important but ot-neglected spiritualkey. God desires and expects His ollow-ers to ast. Jesus Christ was asked why Hisdisciples did not ast like other religiouspeople. He replied with a short parableexplaining that it was because He was stillpresent with His disciples. He stated thatater He was no longer among them (reer-ring to His impending return to heaven),
“then they will ast”
(Matthew 9:14-15,emphasis added throughout).By that He meant that
all o His uturedisciples would ast.
Why? Because weneed asting with prayer to help us maintaina close relationship with God and JesusChrist. And there are other major spiritualbenets o asting, as we shall see.When Jesus spoke to His disciplesabout
to ast, He clearly was expect-ing that they
ast (Matthew 6:16-18). He did not say
you ast” but
you ast.” And note that in thischapter, Jesus emphasizes asting asmuch as praying and doing good works.Fasting is mentioned prominently inthe Old and New Testaments. The biblicalrecord o who asted is a virtual “who’swho” o the Bible and includes Moses,David, Elijah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther,Daniel, Anna and Jesus Christ. Theapostle Paul engaged “in astings oten”(2 Corinthians 11:27).
What is fasting?
In a sense, everyone asts. When we arein bed asleep, we go without any ood ordrink. That is asting. That is why the rstmeal o the day is called
How-ever, when people speak o asting, theyusually mean a longer period o time o deliberately choosing not to eat and drink.It can be or a whole day, part o a day ormore than a day.A health ast is any temporary restricteddiet that is supposed to have certain healthbenets. But this article addresses astingor one’s
health, which involvesabstaining rom ood and drink whilespending a lot o extra time in prayer andBible study (Exodus 34:28; Ezra 10:6;Esther 4:16; Acts 9:9).Ideally, we should spend most o thewaking part o a ast period praying,studying and refecting. I this is notpossible, at the very least we can do thatduring the extra time when we ordinarilywould be eating.
Misunderstandings about fasting
A healthy person who is not perspiringmuch can go without ood and water orabout three days beore the body beginsto be stressed. And a healthy person cango without ood or several days i he isdrinking water. Thus, the amazingly long40-day asts by Moses, Elijah and JesusChrist (Deuteronomy 9:9; 1 Kings 19:8;Luke 4:2) were possible only by God’ssupernatural intervention.How long we might saely ast dependson our individual health. I you are unsureabout your health limitations, it would bewise to get a medical checkup, and westrongly advise it. Then start with a mealor two beore gradually increasing to aull day ast—being alert to the beginningo any adverse eects.However, we shouldn’t consider merediscomorts—including eeling hungry,thirsty and less energetic—as “adverseeects.” For most people, a headache is
Tools for Spiritual Growth
A Spiritual Power Tool!
Three earlier articles in this series covered prayer, Bible study and thinking or meditation. Along with those spiritual tools, we need to frequently combine this fourth tool—fasting.
by Don Hooser
Godly fasting is poles apart from hunger strikes used to gainpolitical power or draw attention to a personal cause. Fastingliberates us from slavery to our appetites while we focuson the true “Bread of Life,” Jesus Christ.
i S t o c k p h o t o / K e n n e t h Z i r k e l