From February 27 - April 8, Glory of Christ Baptist Church will be engaging in a Season of Consecration that is designed to help us obey Luke 9:23: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Starting a church is a really big deal, and without him we will not be able to do it.
Fasting, though it will not be the focus of this season, will be an important part of it, and so I felt it necessary to do some teaching on the subject for our church since it is so open to misunderstanding and misappropriation. Over the next several days, then, I'll be posting some of that teaching here. And without further ado, here is the first installment:
Over the next several days, I want to give you some basic teaching about fasting. For while the focus of these 40 days is consecrating ourselves to the Lord for the sake of his glory in this new church, fasting is among the most helpful means of doing so—if one has a proper perspective of it. For today I want to ask and answer a very simple question: What is fasting?
To give a literal definition, fasting means to deny oneself food or water or other necessities or pleasures of life for a season. Fasting is putting aside the good things of life, so that we can feast on the great things of life. Fasting is making space in our lives so that we can give ourselves more intensely to prayer and worship and the Word of God.
And if you’ll think about this with me for a moment, you’ll see that we can only fast from things that are good. For instance, we can’t fast from stealing or gluttony or coveting or lust, we have to repent from these things. So, the only things from which we can fast are good gifts from God. In fasting, we choose to set aside the good gifts of God for a season so that we can feast on the great gifts of God, like prayer and worship and the Word of God.
Now, someone might say, “I have experienced the pain of fasting. I have experienced the pain of going without food and the pain of crankiness and negative emotions and lack of energy and backlash and so on. How can you then say that fasting is feasting, because from my experience fasting is painful?”
I would answer this: I too have experienced the pain of fasting, every single time I have fasted—whether long or short. There is a pain in letting go of the good things of life. There is a pain in denying oneself. There is a pain in cutting the ties with things to which we are very much attached, even if we are rightly attached to them. There is a pain in realizing that some of the things we thought were necessities or gifts from God, are in fact in that category of things from which we must repent.
There is a variety of pain in every fast, but the point still remains: the pain of fasting is not about the pain of fasting, it is about discovering the joy of living when the great things of God have first place our hearts and habits. The pain of fasting is about letting go of our way of life and embracing His way of life. The pain of fasting is about dying to ourselves, not just for the sake of dying to ourselves, but for the sake of becoming more like Jesus Christ! The pain of fasting is about learning that, even though we need certain things in this world to survive and even though God has given us certain things for our enjoyment, we are much more in need of prayer and worship and the Word of God.
In conclusion, to fast is to declare to God that we desire him more than anything else in our lives. To fast is to feast on God—when it is understood and practiced rightly.
For the glory of Jesus,