value of fasting for christian
Fasting is, in the biblical sense, abstaining from food and drink for a spiritual reason.In the Old Testament era, Jews often fasted, although there was only one fast prescribed by law. Once every year on the Day of Atonement, the Hebrews were to suffer from their spirits (Lev. 16:31), which meant fasting (cf. Isa. 58: 3).
Although there is no compulsory fast for Christians today, the New Testament keeps in mind that the children of God are sometimes required to fast.When the Lord’s disciples were criticized for not fasting, Jesus replied that it was hardly appropriate for them to fast. However, the time will come when he will be taken away from them. Then they fasted (Lk. 5:35).
Many, in warning against improper inspiration in worship, Christ warned: “Also when you fast, not as heresy,” (Mt 6:16). It is important that he did not say so, but when you rapidly reflect an expectation that they will.
Fasting, for the Christian, is strictly voluntary. It must originate from a sense of intense need, not simply as a result of ritualism or formality.
What is the value of fasting? When will the fast be valued?
Fasting can be spiritually beneficial in times of personal grief. Upon hearing about Saul’s death, David and his people mourned and fasted (2 Sam. 1:12). Then Nehemiah learned of the desolate state of Jerusalem (Neh. 1: 4).
Fasting with prayer, of course, seems appropriate when a loved one is seriously ill (2 Sam 12:16).Fasting frequently with repentance as an outward and genuine sign for spiritual rebellion (1 Sam. 7: 6). The people of Nineveh declared a fast to identify their sins (John. 3: 5).
Fasting was practiced in connection with great and important religious events. Moses fasted during the period when he was receiving the law (Exodus 34:28). Christ fasted before his encounter with the devil in the wilderness (Mt. 4: 2).
The church fasted before sending Barnabas and Saul on that dangerous first missionary campaign (Acts 13: 2-3). Fasting was certainly a component in Paul’s dynamic ministry (2 Cor. 6: 5; 11:27).
Warning for fasters
However, fasting can be misused. This practice should never be employed as an alternative to personal theocratic life.
Isaiah gave a sharp rebuke to the fasters, then pursued his worldly pleasures (Isa (58)).
Also, fasting should not be an opportunity to ridicule someone’s religion. The Pharisees were guilty of this (Mt. 6: 16–18).
Finally, the rigors of fasting should not be allowed to ignite religious trafficking and a sense of self-righteousness. This can certainly be a temptation (cf. Lk. 18: 9–14).
Benefits of fastingIn the final analysis, there appears to be some benefit in voluntary fasting at certain times.
The scriptures suggest that God honors fasting when performed as a deep and sincere dedication.Physicians indicated that moderate fasting could be a benefit to health, with the effect of allowing our systems to clean themselves occasionally. (See: Complete Guide to Fasting for an excellent overview of health benefits.)
The mind appears to be capable of reaching greater depths of contemplation during the period of fasting.
Fasting can help put a corner edge on self-discipline.
Fasting may have the additional effect of strengthening our appreciation for the things of which we are deprived during periods of hatred.