“But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Matt. 6:17
Several years ago I was discussing with an Elder the pros and cons of a huge decision our church was facing. He ended our conversation saying, “But we’ve got it all under control because all the Elders are fasting.” I looked at him incredulously and said, “Really? You think that will help?” The conversation went downhill from there.
Fasting didn’t help these men make a better decision or make them better attuned to the Lord’s direction. The decision they made was disastrous, but it had nothing to do with them fasting or not fasting. These well-meaning and otherwise Godly men were simply incorrectly applying statements in the Gospels, things Jesus said to the Jews under the Law, to people living post-cross in the Church Age.
Applying this Elder’s reasoning, it’s easy to see why so many people through the years have punished their bodies trying to get God’s attention. On our trips to the holyland we have often seen people bleeding from beating their backs with whips or crawling on their bloodied knees for blocks, believing that these kind of actions would make God more likely to answer their prayers.
But the truth is, there is zero you can do or not do to make yourself more or less acceptable to God. You can’t, but Jesus could, and He paid it ALL on the cross.
Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. John 19:30
The phrase “It is finished” is a Greek accounting term meaning “paid in full.” Born-again Believers are as holy as they’ll ever be living in their sinful and temporary container. You can’t add to the righteousness Jesus provided you. He doesn’t need your help. Paul, our Church Age Apostle, never mentioned fasting.
“You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” Gal. 3:1-3
With the exception of a couple of references to people fasting in the transitional book of Acts, it’s not commanded or instructed in the Church Age.
Some people have used this verse to justify Believers fasting:
And Jesus said to them, “While the bridegroom is with them, the attendants of the bridegroom cannot fast, can they? So long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.” Mark 2:19-20
They suggest that verse confirms that while Jesus is away we should fast. That’s true for the Jews who rejected their Messiah, to whom this was written. But this verse actually confirms Church Age believers are not to fast because He’s not gone away; He lives in us!
Fasting may have some health benefits and I’m obviously referring only to spiritual applications. So it’s not necessarily wrong to fast. It’s just wrong to fast thinking it will make God more likely to answer your prayers or impart more wisdom to you. If you want wisdom, ask for it.
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5
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Bill and Susie Perkins founded Compass International, Inc. in 1993 as a non-profit, non- denominational ministry. For information on Compass’ Steeling the Mind Bible Conferences, Good Morning Lord! Bible studies, books, DVDs and Biblelands Trips and Cruises, go to compass.org
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