Does anyone incorporate a regular fast day or time in their weeks/months, etc? I did a study a while back that suggested a weekly fast day. The study had to do with eating issues, and I think the fast day was to help focus on the Lord (obviously!) but also somehow aid in overcoming these issues. I've been trying to do this for a few weeks now, and the first time was awesome! I had a great day of study, prayer, meditation, etc. But each week it has gotten harder b/c I can't seem to understand (I guess) why exactly I'm continuing to do it. I guess I've always thought of fasting as something you're called to do for a certain purpose (usually when you're praying for something specific, etc) and to just choose to fast once a week...well, I'm losing focus on the "why" of it. Anyone have any insight?
05-30-2010, 09:26 AM
:) Hi JENNY ~
I am not a big fan of fasting for weight loss purposes, but this is just my opinion and does not mean that anyone doing so is wrong.
My personal belief is that it has potential to do more harm than good in the long run.
I have fasted in the past, but not for weight loss reasons. I have fasted to regain focus on an issue that was troubling me.
My advice would be if it it truly helps you in a healthy way to do it for weight loss then Jesus would be :) for you...but if it isn't I think He would be very :( sad.
I will leave you with what my church teaches on the subject ~
Q. What does fasting mean in the Christian life?
A. Nowhere do the Scriptures teach that fasting is required as a way of "earning" God's grace or favor. During the Middle Ages, many requirements were placed on Christians, including some that suggested that by fasting one could earn more merit before God. The central issue at stake in the Lutheran Reformation was the Scriptural teaching that it is God, in Christ, who has earned our salvation. We contribute nothing to that salvation, but only received --through faith--the benefits of Christ's suffering and death on our behalf.
That doesn't mean that fasting is wrong. Jesus speaks about fasting in Matthew 6, saying "When you fast..." (not "If you fast"). Fasting has always been recognized by Lutherans as a potentially useful and God-pleasing means of exercising discipline over one's own mind and body (see, e.g., Augsburg Apology XII, 139, 143). As Luther explains in the Small Catechism, "Fasting and bodily preparation are certainly fine outward training. But that person is truly worthy and well-prepared [to receive the Lord's Supper] who has faith in these words: 'Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.'"
So, should you choose to fast at a certain time or in a certain way, do it as a way of "honoring God with your body" (1 Cor. 6:20). Use it as a time to be reminded that man does not live by bread alone (Matt. 4). But also recognize that God does not require this as a way of "earning points" with Him. You are His free and forgiven child in Christ.
05-30-2010, 03:28 PM
Thanks EZ :)
I haven't been following the fast as a means of weight loss (or at least I'm trying to keep from thinking that way) but as a means of refocusing and prayer. Although this past week I have found quite a bit of info about fasting for health reasons that aren't spiritually related that leads me to think that a one day fast every week could just be beneficial to my health. I fully believe (as your church info stated) that my fasting in no way earns anything for my salvation, but there is definitely something spiritually beneficial to it. There is a closeness with God that I experience on fast days that I don't normally...sad to say! I guess that closeness should happen all the time :^: But maybe it's because of the extra time spent w/ Him that I normally spend eating :o
Anyway, thanks again for the response & the church quote. It was definitely helpful. Blessings!
06-01-2010, 11:42 PM
JENNY ~ I decided to read up a bit and pray about this topic before answering, but I knew that GARY would reply to you and in the way he did as he always is very helpful with these kinds of things. I know people that do fast, but it is a limited fast for spiritual and health reasons combined (their explanation) -- they do a juice and soup fast (and maybe water too, I think): so that they get some health benefits but don't want to harm their bodies. They do this on the same day each week.
Some people fast for only one meal; OR for the daytime only, and as soon as sundown comes, they then have a balanced meal. I have seen this often (ie in our town), esp with those trying to raise funds for important issues of concern. I suppose there are different traditions and opinions concerning this subject.
I checked out several bible passages but really couldn't find any that actually explained WHY people fasted, just that they did (and it seemed to be some kind of tradition), as was already stated above. I do recall that Jesus said not to make a big show of your fasting, and if you did it, do it privately (Mattew 6:17/18).
Of course, then there are those that fast for health reasons only and you probably found out about them through your search on the net. I have even heard of fruit fasts (ie having fruit for the morning only) and then continuing the rest of the day as per usual.
Actually, this is one of those questions that there does seem to be lots of questions about -- myself included ... I have always wondered why people fasted and what the spiritual significance was. I thought that maybe it was a show of a "shared sacrifice" to GOD; maybe sharing in Christ's sufferings by sacrificing a physcial need for a limited time (1 Corinth 7:5) to show GOD how sincere you are about your prayer life (Acts 14: 23) -- but like GARY already said, I don't think it is a requirement. Whenever I do lots of prayers, I don't stop to go for a meal: I just set aside a special time between them or in the evening.
Also, Christ fasted for 40 days and nights in the wilderness as a "test of temptation", if I am interpreting that correctly. He passed the test and used scriptures to combat all the temptations thrown at him. That is why I spend some of my time memorizing scriptures as in Psalm 119:11 "Your Word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against thee."
The disciples did not fast (Matthew 9:14) -- but the Pharisees did (tradition?), and Jesus was asked why; and He replied that it would be like mourning Him while He was still here, but that when He was gone, they would fast. So I am wondering if it was a sign of angst or the depth of sorrow or desire or earnestness (such a word? :lol:).
In the end, I think that this is purely a personal choice -- some people fast and some don't; to each his own. I think it is nice to spend some time alone in prayer and reading the Word; and some people may want to dedicate an hour or a morning or a day to that, as they wish. Some people do this as a learning or growing experience as well.
Hope this is helpful in some small way ... Rosebud
06-05-2010, 04:23 PM
As humans and/or Christians, our FLESH constantly fails us. Be it food, wine, booze, sex, entertainment, gadgets, electronics, etc. Our love for STUFF typically holds a greater weight than that for our love of God. I'm being transparent here, I don't give my all, and you may not either. The STUFF feeds our flesh, our desires to want what we want and not necessarily what God wants. Fasting and prayer STARVES your flesh and allows you to focus on Christ, on his sacrifice. When you aren't feeding your flesh, you have no choice but to feed your spirit. The more I fast, the more broken I become, and when I become broken, my direct link and connection with my Father is so incredibly intense. That is why I fast.
Corporately, my church fasts the first Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of every month. We have prayer meetings at 6a, noon, and 6:30pm. We also have a corporate fast every January that lasts 21 days along with prayer meetings everyday led by a pastor.
06-05-2010, 04:29 PM
Jentezen Franklin has a book out called FASTING. It's really good, if you want guidance, you want to understand more about fasting, I recommend reading it. I actually picked it up at Family Christian for $5 a while back.
I can't post the link, but if you google his name, it will come up.
There is so much personal testimony experienced throughout our congregation through times of fasting and prayer, breakthroughs that are just beyond reason because they are of God and only God.
06-12-2010, 09:25 PM
I do like to fast once a week also, the following is an excerpt from my Diet Bible study, on a day called "Fasting to Feast".
I was always somewhat confused about fasting. I wasnít entirely clear of its purpose. When I prayed and asked God to show me why, He opened my eyes through studying His Word. The Bible gives us several reasons for fasting. Fasting keeps you focused. Before I wrote this dayís study, I would try to do things to make myself not feel hungry when I fasted. Iíd put lots of cream and sugar in my coffee. I would try to trick my stomach into thinking I wasnít hungry by drinking a lot of water. While doing this study, I realized thatís the whole point of fasting. Every time you feel hunger, it reminds you to pray. It makes you so close to God, as your flesh submits to the Holy Spirit.
Psalm 34:8 Oh taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
In the study Circumcise Your Heart we talked about the flesh part of you and the spirit part of you. Our spirit part of us always wants to follow God and His ways. Our flesh part of us always wants to please the flesh. The flesh always wants to take the easy way. There is always a battle for control. The more you feed the flesh, the stronger it gets. By starving the flesh part of you, you make the flesh weak. Fasting and prayer brings the flesh part of you under submission to the spirit part of you.
By fasting, you tear your affection away from earthly desires and instead you seek Gods desire for you. When you fast and pray, you feast on the Spirit. You feel so close to God. It humbles you, and makes you acknowledge your dependence on God. Every time your soul is afflicted, it brings your focus back to God. Your hunger pangs are like a spiritual alarm clock, reminding you to pray. When I fast and pray, it brings my sins into focus, I can see them for what they are. I get a greater clarity of Godís will for me. My spirit man is in control of my flesh man. I understand truths in the Bible that I hadnít seen before.
Fasting and prayer always go together. When I was trying to assuage my hunger by adding cream and sugar to my coffee, it wasnít really fasting, because instead of praying when I got hungry, I tried to fix my discomfort. Fasting without prayer isnít fasting; itís just missing meals. Cutting away the flesh man, takes prayer and fasting. You are in the flesh when youíre not trusting God. If you donít pray while you are fasting, it can sometimes lead to incorrect fasting.