Why is Fasting Important?
We are taking Friday, November 2, 2018 as a day of prayer and fasting. Read below for some thoughts on why fasting is important.
As mentioned above, Bishop Charlie Masters has asked ANiC to specifically set aside November 2nd, the first Friday of November, as a day of Prayer and Fasting for the Leung family and for our upcoming synod. The theme of synod this year is "For the Harvest", and Bishop Charlie has a deep burden that we come away from synod with a profound commitment to seeing thousands who at the moment are lost come to a saving relationship with Christ.
How then does fasting fit in to this? First of all, let's define fasting as the practice of deliberately abstaining from food for spiritual purposes. Much has been written about the physiological benefits of fasting, but our main focus here is of a spiritual nature.
Here are some spiritual benefits:
1. Fasting is a means by which a believer can bring his or her body into subjection, making the body the servant not the master.
2. Fasting denies the insistent self-gratifying appetites of the body. It's a means by which we can "sow to the Spirit, and not to the flesh" (Galatians 6: 7-8).
3. Experience shows that fasting heightens our spiritual sensitivity and discernment, making us more open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
4. Fasting can be a form of mourning and humbling ourselves before God where we can confess our desperate need and total dependence upon Him for our life and ministry for apart from Him we can do nothing. (John 15:5)
5. Practically speaking, fasting frees up time - that commodity of which we seem to always be in short supply - to seek the Lord and to enjoy being with Him.
Fasting was regularly practiced in both the Old and New Testaments at times of personal danger or national crisis, at times of seeking God for specific guidance and direction, and especially at times of conviction of sin and repentance. Names such as Moses, David, Ezra, Isaiah, Joel, Daniel, Nehemiah, Jehoshaphat, Esther, Paul and Barnabas; all were servants of God in different centuries who saw fasting as an essential practice.
In some evangelical circles, it has fallen into disuse because it was considered a "Catholic" practice like doing penance. But the roots of fasting are solidly biblical and highly encouraged by Jesus, both through His own example and through His exhortations. In the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 6, Jesus referred to three activities of believers in parallel format:
1. when you giveto the needy, . . . don’t show off like Pharisees
2. when you pray, . . .
3. when you fast,. . . . not if, but when
Fasting was an assumed ingredient in the spiritual life of all believers in the early Church. If you’re new to the practice, consider beginning slowly; skip one meal, or fast from desserts or other non-essential favourites. If health concerns prohibit food fasting, try “fasting” TV, Facebook or Netflix for the day. The issue is not in the specifics of our fast. Rather, it is in the motive our heart.
You can read more about our day of prayer and fasting on Friday, November 2, 2018 and the important prayer requests we’re focusing on here: