A brand new year often brings a desire for consecration for the Christian. We sense that we need to draw closer to the Lord or, in essence, rededicate ourselves to Him. We recognize the need for more of Him. For many, that consecration means fasting. Fasting literally means not eating food. I know it has become common practice to go easy on ourselves and say that we are fasting television or social media for a time. Though those things are good to do, they aren’t fasting. Fasting means food.
But is it necessary? There are objections to fasting found both outside and inside the church. If the objection comes from the outside, it is usually coupled with comments like, “That’s a little fanatical” or “isn’t that a bit extreme?” If it comes from within the church, it is from those who desire to argue over particular scriptural references that suit their opinions.
First, let me be clear, you don’t have to fast to get saved. However, when Jesus behaves in a particular manner, it would seem a behavior we ought to emulate. John 5:19 “Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” So Jesus emulates the Father, and we emulate Jesus.
It would seem that the Son of God would not need to fast. But we see that in Matthew 4:1-11, he clearly did. Why was it necessary? Immediately after Jesus’ baptism, he was led up into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Jesus knew what was ahead. He knew the enemy would be coming to tempt him. With that knowledge, Jesus chose to prepare. His preparation was that of fasting. He humbled his flesh to allow no hindrance for His Spirit to rule.
The purpose should be the same for us. We don’t fast because we think it is a magic wand that can make God answer our prayers. Instead, we humble ourselves and our flesh so that our spirits draw closer to God. We desire His strength and power instead of the fleeting power of natural food. We understand that fasting doesn’t change God. It changes us, and that is where we need the help.
To live a surrendered life for Christ in this new year will take our participation and preparation. If you live to advance of the Kingdom of God and for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, It will take your participation. You may need to put away the former things and put on His righteousness. You may need to die to the flesh so you can live to the Spirit. To do this, it may take humbling yourself and acknowledging your dependence on the Lord. If we recognize that we need Him today and every day, we will do whatever it takes to remain close to His heart.
Jesus said that we would have tribulation in this world, so we know we will face difficult circumstances and temptations like Him. But He also said, be of good cheer for I have overcome the world. He showed us a remedy. He showed us what He did. He fasted.
I think it’s that simple. If Jesus needed to do it, I think it is fair to say that we do too. If you feel that there is too much space between you and your Savior, if you just need more this year, if life is overwhelming, or you simply want to rededicate yourself to the Lord and His purposes, consider a time of fasting.
Happy New Year!