Last Sunday Pastor Dan spoke of the importance of fasting in the life of the believer from Zechariah. This week we wanted to follow up with a few helpful reminders from the sermon and additional resources to follow up.
The practice of voluntarily not eating is certainly one that is not commonly practiced within our culture. However, that is exactly what fasting is. One author defined fasting as the Christian practice of voluntarily abstaining from food for spiritual purposes. The important elements in this definition are Christian, voluntary, and spiritual. Without any of these components, whatever the practice is called, it is not biblical fasting.
Additionally, as Pastor Dan reminded us on Sunday there are two main types of fasts: partial and complete. It might be wise for those who are new to the practice to begin with a partial fast as they seek to implement this spiritual discipline into their lives.
As we consider the practice of withstanding from food, another obvious question is why would we do this? It certainly does not sound pleasant? What circumstance would lead us to fast? In his classic book The Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life Professor Donald Whitney gives many reasons a Christian would enter into a fast. Here are a few of the many he listed:
- To strengthen prayer
- To seek God's guidance
- To express repentance
- To overcome temptation and dedicate yourself to God
- To minister to the needs of others
These few reasons and many more might be used by the Holy Spirit to lead a follower of Christ into a time of fasting. As Pastor Dan challenged the church collectively to consider if there would be a time in the coming weeks in which we would dedicate ourselves to prayer and fasting. In his chapter on fasting, Donald Whitney ends with a similar challenge to his readers:
- Will you confess and repent of any fear of fasting?
- Will you fast as the Holy Spirit directs?
- Will you plan a fast of dedication now as an expression of your willingness to fast from now on?
It is our challenge together to consider how we might withhold ourselves from the good gifts of the Lord in order to push us toward growing in Godliness. Therefore, we ask that each of us would consider how the Holy Spirit is directing us in taking part of this spiritual discipline.
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney
Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster