The Lord God ordained the fasting on the Day of Atonement as a part of worship for the Israelites. Lev.16:19, 31. Our Lord Jesus Christ fasted too, Matt.4:1,2. This makes fasting an act of worship for the New Testament believers. Fasting has to do with setting apart a time and abstaining from physical nourishment mostly to seek the face of God. Notable people in the Bible such as Daniel (Dan. 9:3), David (Sam.7:5, 8), Esther (Esth.4:16), Apostle Paul (2 Cor. 11:20) and other people practiced fasting to seek the face of God for so many things such as forgiveness of sin, healing, deliverance, favour, guidance, and several other things. When done correctly it is a very effective way of seeking and receiving from God. However, when done wrongly, apart from the fact that it can be very discouraging, one does not receive the blessings of God and this can be very frustrating. I undertook several of the wrong fastings in the past before I learned of the right attitude to maintain while fasting.
It is important to remember that fasting is an act of worship. As an act of worship, it implies it is something done to honor God, therefore it is not a once-a-year thing but an exercise to be undertaken from time to time both congregationally and individually. And because it is an act of worship, it must be done in repentance, faith, love, gratitude, humility, reverentially, sincerity, in spirit, and in truth. This is the basic area many of us get it wrong when fasting and later complain of unanswered prayers. All that many people do when fasting is murmuring, bitter complaints, accusations, hatred and bitterness of heart, sorrowing, weeping, and sadness. Some even go to the extent of afflicting themselves hitting themselves on the ground, and doing other injurious things to their bodies. Some would so wear themselves out with hunger and dehydration due to so many days of total abstinence from food and water and grieving that they become so weak and sick to even open their mouths to pray. All some others do throughout the fasting period is cursing and swearing for their enemies. God condemned this type of fasting in Isaiah 58: 2-5. All these negate God’s moral character. God is merciful, gracious, understanding, forgiving, loving, and compassionate. He has no delight in human suffering and wickedness in seeking His face. His worship is not burdensome at all.
Furthermore, some people pride themselves in the number of days they fasted and what they abstained from while fasting. Apart from the ordained days of congregational fasting in the laws of Moses which on most occasions are not more than one day, there is nowhere in the Old and New testament were any particular type of fasting be it; total abstinence, partial, white, night and whatever name of fasting is ordained for any, neither were there prescribed number of days such as 3 days, 7 days, 21, 40, 100. All the individuals that fasted in the Bible choose to do so by themselves.
God tells us in Isaiah 58: 6-7 what could be regarded as the principles of true fasting (a) loose the bonds of wickedness (b) undo the bonds of yokes (c) let the oppressed go free (d) Break every yoke (e) feeding the poor (f) sheltering the homeless (g) clothing the unclothed (h) assisting your own flesh and blood ( family members). Can you see that! The fasting period is a time of a change of attitude and doing good works of charity. God told us what He would do when we do our fasting correctly in Isa. 58: 8-12. The truth is that genuine fasting is not about the length of days and what one abstained from doing. What matters most is the condition of the heart. The heart seeking God in fasting must be humble, kind, loving, and generous with good intentions and good works towards the poor and the needy. All these are things a heart full of gratitude to God would find very easy to do.
Jesus, the bridegroom has been taken from us so we must fast. However, fasting is no longer a time to sorrow or wear long faces or wear sack cloths or afflict the body and soul but it is a time to worship God with thanksgiving. This is because Jesus has gone through all our pains and sorrows for us and has given us the spirit of gladness. God meets only those who rejoice (Isa. 64:5).
Jesus assured us that God will answer us in His name. The fasting period is a time of drawing near to God in boldness, confidence, joy, and gratitude for all Jesus’ promises and removal of sins that is a great barrier between us and God’s blessings. Try fasting with an attitude of gratitude to God and good works to the poor and the needy and see how your needs would be met by God.
GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO I.