The season of Lent is a time many Christians choose to fast. For 2016 the season begins on Wednesday, February 10th
The following are some reasons for fasting, and not just for Lent. Fasting may be beneficial at any time.
1. Fast as an Act of Dedication– Jesus went into the wilderness and fasted after his baptism and prior to entering into his ministry. Perhaps he did this to gain confirmation and clarity by intensely focusing on God.
2. Fast as an Exercise of Discipline– Learn to say no to “me.” All of the temptations Jesus underwent in the wilderness were attempts to get him to act expediently and egotistically. If the Lord had given in it would not have been an exercise of faith, but, rather, the wildly alternating swings between self-doubt and presumption. I need to learn to say “no” to myself.
3. Fast as an Affirmation of Dependence– Learn to rely on the power of God. Jesus’ first statement in response to Satan’s temptation demonstrates this. “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3 as quoted in Matthew 4:4, also John 4:34).
4. Fast to Establish Determination– Learn to have a tenacious and unshakeable faith. “This kind can only come out by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29, Matthew 17:21).
5. Fast as an Act of Desperation– Cry out to God in repentance (Joel & Israel, Jonah and Ninevah). “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” (Joel 2:12 NIV). A need to hear from God at all costs (Daniel 10 & 21 days of prayer), David seeking the healing of his 1st child by Bathsheba.
6. Fast as a Means of Detoxification– Because of constant exposure to an impure environment your body collects all sorts of toxic and destructive substances. Consider Daniel and his friends who would not eat the meat and rich food offered them by their Babylonian overlords. Instead they ate only vegetables and drank only water. They were healthier as the result.
A vegetarian diet that allows only organic foods can be a healthy way to rid your body of toxins. When you fast, especially for longer periods, the digestive system and liver can rid you of accumulated poison.
The same principle applies to the mind. When you remove TV, movies, video games, godless music, social media, you give your mind the opportunity to rest. Replace these things with worship and saturation in Scripture.
7. Fast Regularly to Diet– Limiting the amount of food you eat is a means of controlling calorie intake. Most of us eat too much. We take in more calories than we burn off, so we gain unneeded fat. Periodic fasting if done in moderation and balanced with a healthy, calorie controlled diet, is an effective tool in losing fat and maintaining a lean body.
Whatever you decide to do, remember the following four principles.
A. If you make a commitment, keep it. Consistency is important for any discipline.
B. Choose something that will really require discipline to give up.
C. Giving up what you shouldn’t be doing to begin with is not fasting, it’s obedience.
D. It is not a good idea to make promises to God, better to rely on his promises for you. So, you aren’t fasting to get God to do something for you. Trust him to help you through.