has more to say about fasting than baptism. It is a
spiritual practice that is encouraged both in the OT and
NT. Fasting is to be vital part of our walk with God.
Scripture provides a vast variety of reasons to fast.
studied fasting in the gospel of Matthew. In Matt
6:16-18 the Lord says,
you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the
hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance
so that they will be noticed by men when they are
fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in
full. "But you, when you fast, anoint your head and
wash your face so that your fasting will not be
noticed by men,
your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in
will reward you.”
instructs us to abstain from fasting in order to display
our godliness to others Rather, we are to fast to God in
private. Jesus states that this type of fasting will
result in God’s “reward.” The Lord will respond
“whenever you fast.” This is a general statement.
It seems that the Lord intends for us to fast as we are
9:14-17, the Lord gives additional teaching on fasting.
“Then the disciples of John came to Him, asking, "Why do we and the
Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?" And
Jesus said to them, "The attendants of the bridegroom
cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can
they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is
taken away from them, and then hey will fast. "But no
one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment;
for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a
worse tear results. "Nor do people
put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and
the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but
they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are
Here we are told to avoid fasting like the religious leaders of
Israel - out of legalistic duty, cf Zech 7:5. The
Jews in Christ’s day were fasting for traditions added to Scripture by man. The only command in Scripture, given by the
as part of the Day of Atonement celebration, Lev 16:29, 23:27,
is no longer needed. The Day of Atonement
celebration was a symbolic waiting of God’s people for
forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ, the blood
Christ is saying that rather than fasting out of command or duty,
given the dynamic of the NT realities provided to us through
the Lord’s death, burial and resurrection, we
are through the direction of the Holy Spirit, who now
permanently dwells in us and guides us, to follow the Spirit’s
direction. We are
to fast in response to what God is doing in our midst.
This is symbolically an expression of placing “shrunk” cloth” on
“old garments” so that “no tearing results.” Likewise our
fasting is to be symbolized by placing “new wine” into
“new wineskins” so that the skins will not ruined. Now
that Christ’s ministry on earth has been completed, the
Spirit resides within us permanently. We are to ask the
Spirit to convict us to fast. When the Spirit leads, we are
The Lord’s instruction on fasting in the NT may be summarized as
Don’t fast to demonstrate your spirituality to others.
Don’t fast out of legalistic duty.
Fast in the Spirit and in response to God’s guidance.
If we say that we are not being convicted to fast, then we should
not fast. But if we are not seeking God’s direction to
fast, the Spirit may not convict us. In the alternative,
the Spirit may be convicting us and yet we do not discern
His guidance in this area because we have not understood the
need to seek His direction in the area of fasting. As
James 4:2 indicates, “You
do not have because you do not ask.”
By way of application, let me urge you seek God’s direction to fast
for any of
the following reasons:
The Lord’s examination and direction of our
Church and of us
– See Acts 13:1-3, Joel 2:12-17, Lk 2:37.
The selection of Church officers for 2008 - See Acts
March 9th – The Board of our Church is asking you to pray
fasting with us on this Sunday
[or a part of this day]. We are
a Church to affirm our budget and for further input
you. See Josh 1; Matt
For Lacey’s ongoing recovery - See 1 Sam 20:34, Dan 9:1-23;
For unbelievers during Easter
- To maximize several upcoming
opportunities: The Men’s Pancake
Breakfast, The “Making Time
for Your Neighbor Weekend, March 14 –
March 16; Easter Sunday, March 23.
Please study these passages and consider listening to the sermons I
did in Matt 9 on Spirit Led Fasting.