MATTHEW 6: 16 -18
16. Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
17. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
18. That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
Matthew 6:17-18 KJV
What is fasting?
It is not a condition forced upon a person (2 Cor.6:5, 11:27). But as it is used in this passage, it is a voluntary abstinence from food as a religious exercise.
Fasting always as used in Scriptures is always combined with prayer. (1Sam.7:5, 6; 2Sam.12:16, 21-23, 2Chron.20:3,5ff, Ezra 8:21-23, Neh.1:4; 9:1ff, Isa.58:6, 9, Jer.14:12, Dan.9:3, Luke 2:37, Acts 13:2,3, 14:23).
Fasting is an expression of:
· Total dependence on the Lord (Acts 13:2,3)
· Sorrow for and in connection with confession of sin (Lev. 16:29-34, 23:26-32, Num.29:7-11, Deu.9:18, 1Kings 21:27, Neh.9:1ff, Dan.9:3)
· Mourning over something bad experienced like defeat (Judg.20:26)
· Arrival of bad news (Neh.1:4)
· A plague or pestilence (Joel 1:14, 2:12-15)
Sometimes a fast was ordered or observed to promote concentration on an important religious act or event, such as the commissioning of missionaries (Acts 13: 2,3) or the appointment of elders.
What attitude should we have in approaching or while fasting?
· Fasting is not a show of how religious or holy you are. But it is an act of submission and humility in the sense of denying yourself food for the sake of prayer.
· You should not show people how pious you are by fasting (V. 16)
· It should be something between you and your God (V.18)
· Hypocrisy is not needed while fasting
· Fasting should be done in secret just like giving of alms (6:2-4)and prayer (6:5,6)
The lord Jesus Expected His disciples to fast that is why he said in Matthew 6:16-17 – “And when you fast… But when you fast…” He gave instructions on what to do and what not to do when we fast, assuming that will indeed fast! This is the same pattern for prayer in Matthew 6:5-7 “But when you pray … When you pray …. And when you pray…. Clearly this tells that Fasting is as normal as prayer.
What is the purpose of fasting?
a. To strengthen prayer
b. To seek God’s guidance
c. To express grief
d. To seek deliverance and protection
e. To express repentance and return to God
f. To humble oneself before God
g. To express concern for the work of God
h. To minister to the needs of others
i. To overcome temptation and dedicate oneself to God
j. To express love and worship to God