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Christian Fasting

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Introduction:
My wife and I, as you know, went on a mission trip to Indonesia two years ago. We were their during the season of Ramadan. Ramadan is roughly a month long fast. In this fast, Muslims are aloud to eat and drink while the sun is not up. So, they will wake up early to eat and drink as much as possible, then wait until evening to eat and drink again. During the day and in the evening they gathered at the Mosque to pray and reciting the Quran in Arabic. We were well aware of the times of prayer because the numerous Mosque through out the city would blast the call to prayer. Ramadan is viewed by many muslims as a way to gain extra favor with Allah.
One day I was hanging out with a couple of Muslim Indonesians. One asked me and my friend whether or not we fast. I replied yes, but our fast are different. I explained how Christians fast not earn favor with God because through faith in Jesus the Son of God is sufficient to secure us eternally as God’s children. That Jesus’ person as the Son of God and His work—His holy life, sacrificial death, powerful resurrection, ascension to God’s right hand, and current reign over His Church—is the only thing that can make us right with God. However, God provides fasting as a means by which we can devote more time to prayer and meditation. It also is appropriate to fast when making important decisions or expressing grief for sin or the loss of someone close.
Who knew fasting could become a means of sharing the gospel of our Lord with a muslim? However, this would have not been the case had I not learned about Christian fasting in Bible College. Fasting is not popular or practiced among American Christians for spiritual reasons. Even the mentioning of the word leads many to think of religious fanatics or extra spiritual people. However, the we should not be deterred from fasting if it is Biblical. That is then the question, is Christian fasting Biblical? Yes, it is during our time this evening we are going to discuss what Christian fasting is, reasons to do it, and the dos and don’ts of it.
Body:
I. Definition:
Christian fasting is a believer’s voluntary abstinence from food for spiritual purposes.
It is Christian in the sense that the benefits it seeks are the benefits that are to be sought according to Scripture.
It is for believers in the sense that only believers reap its benefits.
It is voluntary in the sense in that it should not be forced or coerced.
II. Types of Fasting:
A Normal Fast is the abstaining from all food, but not water (; )
A Partial Fast is the limiting of the diet, but not abstention from all food (; )
An Absolute Fast is the total avoiding of all food and liquid (; ; )
A Supernatural Fast (; )
A private fast is a fast done alone in a way to not be noticed by others ()
A congregational fast is where a group or church decides to fast corporately (; )
A national fast is where an entire nation fast on the call of a leader (; ; ; )
Illustration: Founders of our nation and Lincoln called for national fast.
A repeated fast is a fast that is set by God to happen repeatedly at set times (; ; )
Illustration: John Wesley said he wouldn’t ordain a man to ministry if he didn’t fast on Wednesday and Friday.
anccasional fast
An occasional fast is a fast that occurs on special occasions when a need arises ( and Esther)
The most common ones practice by Christians today are the normal, private, and occasional fast.
III. 2 Reasons Fasting is Uncommon:
Fasting is expected
Fasting is countercultural:
It is odd
We Fear
It isn’t self-indulgent
Fasting is not taught
Christian Reasons to Fast:
IV. 11 Christian Reasons to Fast:
Fasting is expected ( compared with , ; ; ; ; Even plainer is )
Fasting is expected
Fast to strengthen prayer (; ; ; ; ; )
Fast to strengthen prayer
Calvin: Whenever men are to pray to God concerning any great matter, it would be expedient to appoint fasting along with prayer.
Fast to seek God’s guidance (, ; )
Fast to strengthen prayer
Fast to seek God’s guidance
Fast to express grief (; ; ; )
Fast to seek God’s guidance
Fast to express grief
Fast to seek deliverance or protection (; ; ; )
Fast to express repentance and the return to God (; ; )
Fast to express grief
Fast to seek deliverance or protection
Fast to humble yourself before God (; ; )
Fast to seek deliverance or protection
Fast to humble yourself before God
Fast to express concern for the work of God (; )
Fast to express concern for the work of God
Fast to minister to the needs of others (, )
Fast to humble yourself before God
Fast to minister to the needs of others
Fast to express concern for the work of God
Fast to overcome temptation and dedicate your self to God ()
Fast to minister to the needs of others
Fast to overcome temptation and dedicate your self to GodFast to express love and worship to God
Fast to express love and worship to God (; ; )
Fast to overcome temptation and dedicate your self to God
V. The Don’ts of Fasting
Fast to express love and worship to God
Don’t fast as a means to earn God’s favor (; ; ; )
Don’t fast as a means to gain man’s respect ()
Don’t fast as a means to gain man’s respect
Don’t fast in a way that will harm your health
Fast to express love and worship to God
Don’t fast in a way that will harm your health
Don’t spiritualize a fast that is done for health or worldly reasons
Don’t spiritualize a fast that is done for health or worldly reasons
VI. The Dos of Fasting
Plan your fasting
Set a time limit on your fasting
How long should you fast? It is up to you under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Couple your fasting with prayer and meditation
Conclusion/Application:
It is true that we don’t fast for the same reasons as Muslims. Fasting doesn’t make us right with God, Jesus does. However, fasting is a means of God’s grace He promises to use in enriching our prayer, mediation, and spiritual-life in general. When we fast we get hungry and every-time we hunger it is a reminder that we are dependent upon God for provision. So my encouragement for you is to plan a fast in the future and when you get hungry and during the time you normally eat offer a word of prayer or open your Bible and read it. Also, consider a need or a specific thing you want to pray for when you fast. Maybe there is a sin you are struggling to overcome. Maybe you just feel distant in your relationship with God. It could be any number of things. The point I making is pick something specific and pray for it as you fast. In my experience, fasting is difficult, but God does work through it. And that shouldn’t surprise us because He promised to do that. So, will you plan a fast? Will you go against the self-indulgent and gluttonous culture we live in? Jesus expected us to fast and there are many-things worth fasting for, but remember that it is in Christ alone that we find forgiveness of our sins. In fasting we don’t earn God’s favor, we already have it if we are in Christ. However, fasting, like prayer and Bible-intake are means that God promises to use by His Holy Spirit to shape us more into the likeness of Jesus. I don’t know about you, but I hope all of us would be more like Jesus.
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