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Journey Year 2010

Introduction to Fasting
Is there a place for fasting today? Mark 2:18-20 (NRSV)
Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why do
John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus said
to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long
as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the
bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.

Fast with the right motives, not empty ritual but life-changing obedience and ethical integrity:
Isaiah 58
Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their
rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins. 2Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know
my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance
of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God.
3“Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?” Look, you
serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers. 4Look, you fast only to
quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make
your voice heard on high. 5Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow
down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day
acceptable to the Lord? 6Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo
the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7Is it not to share
your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the
naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
8Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your
vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. 9Then you shall
call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove
the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, 10if you offer your
food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday. 11The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your
needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like
a spring of water, whose waters never fail. 12Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise
up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer
of streets to live in.
13If you refrain from trampling the sabbath, from pursuing your own interests on my holy day; if
you call the sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going
your own ways, serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs; 14then you shall take
delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the
heritage of your ancestor Jacob, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Fast in humility and secrecy: Matthew 6:16-19

“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so
as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when
you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others
but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “
Fasting is usually the giving up of food, drink, or both for a period of time. Sometimes other things
personally treasured are sacrificed instead, such as time, money, or a favorite, destructive, or routine
activity. It should be an act of sacrifice significant enough that it keeps itself in our minds over the period
of fasting, and when we think of it we respond by remembering why we fast and how much we hunger
for God. There are absolute fasts, where we give up all food and water, and partial fasts, where we give
up certain things or activities or behaviors. Fasting can be dangerous and should be approached
Scripture does not require us to fast. God does not require or demand it of Christians. The Bible presents
fasting as something that is good, profitable, and beneficial. Fasting helps us gain a new perspective and a
renewed reliance upon God.

Patrick Wrisley said in a sermon of his around fasting:
– Fasting is not a way to make God proud of you.
– Fast if the Spirit calls you to do so, not because others are doing it.
– Don't fast out of “shoulds” or guilt. We fast because we're hungry for Jesus.
So why fast?
– Fasting enables us to hear God better.
– How you respond to the hunger pangs is vital. You can self-pity, or you can use the opportunity to
remember our hunger for Jesus.
– Fasting is a spiritual prompting of call. It comes from outside, and you will not be able to not fast.
– Fasting calls to mind the harshness of the world we live in. We get perspective on how we live:
– what we take for granted
– what we really need
– the choices we have before us
– how others must do without on a daily basis
– Fasting recalibrates our spiritual rhythm.
– Fasting causes us to remember God's faithfulness in the past and his promise for the future.
– Set reasonable and consistent goals, say one or two meals in a day or the same meal a few days a
week. Don't set yourself up for failure.
– If you break your fast before it's completed, don't beat yourself up. Instead, pray, start over, and
continue your fast.
– Consider sacrificing other things besides food (e.g. sacrifice time for exercising the Temple of your
Body, or sacrifice exercise for scriptural study, or sacrifice some compulsive, unhealthy, or
problematic activity such as TV, excessive busyness, internet, shopping).
Other suggestions:
– Consider partial fasts – e.g. sacrificing certain types of foods, such as solid food, high-sugar content,
caffeine, etc