Many years ago we went camping at a gospel concert. I wanted to put up a tarp over the door of our VW pop-up camper. I had the tarp, poles, tent pegs and rope. What I didn’t have was a hammer to secure the pegs into the hard ground. I tried using my shoe but have very limited success. A kindly neighbor saw my predicament and gave me his hammer to use. How much different it is when we have the right tool to do a job!
Likewise God gives us spiritual tools to help us through our journey of life on this earth. They are only good for earth, but they are absolutely essential to obtain all God has for us in this life. If we don’t have a full tool box we won’t be able to be and do all He wants. Our tools include such things as prayer, praise, fellowship with others, Bible study and memory, confession of sin and fasting. Each tool has its own function and must be used just for that purpose.
So what is the purpose of fasting? Lets start by looking at what fasting is NOT. It is not a means to drew attention to ourselves. Matthew 6:16-18 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Neither is it a way to earn approval from God. God isn’t impressed by what we do but why we do it. Isaiah 58:3-4 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.
The biggest dangers in fasting are legalism and pride. They are to be avoided at all costs. Instead fasting is to be seen as something that “hoists the sails of the soul in the hopes of experiencing the gracious wind of God’s Spirit.” It doesn’t guarantee spiritual blessing, but it often puts us in position to experience it as God moves.
One important reason to use the tool of fasting is to draw closer to God. Fasting enables the believer to feast on God. You “eat the Lord” – CRAVING, desiring him, wanting him, receiving him, enjoying him. God is the most desirable being in the whole universe. He is good, merciful, compassionate, forgiving, saving, restoring, healing, providing, strengthening, rebuilding, renewing, reversing our fortune from horrible to the best, fun, creative, wonderful, incredibly amazing, awesome, great to be with, life, joy, peace. Every time your stomach growls, you are reminded how hungry you are for God. Every time food-thoughts attack your mind; you are reminded of God-thoughts. I am hungry, but I am hungrier for you. I love the taste of food; but your love taste better. I prefer you Lord over anything . – we sometimes settle for “a bit of God.”
If you desire to draw closer to God but have been having a hard time doing so, get out the tool of fasting and apply it to the situation. You’ll be amazed how well the right tool can get the job done!