Today when we hear people talk of fasting, the thoughts that come to mind are of health issues.  Either they are concerned about a health condition or they are preparing for some medical test that requires abstinence from food and drink.  Before we even understood the advantages of fasting for physical health benefits there was another reason for fasting. 

In Matthew 17, Jesus encountered a father whose son was possessed of a demon.  The father came to Jesus for healing his son and related that His disciples were unable to heal the boy.  Immediately following Jesus’ casting out the demon the disciples asked why they had been unsuccessful.  Jesus said to them first it was because of the littleness of their faith but He went on to say that what He had done could only be done by prayer and fasting.

We understand what prayer is.  We realize it is the means of communication we have with our heavenly Father and our way of drawing ourselves nearer to Him.  But what of fasting?  According to Jesus there are things we will only be able to do by prayer and fasting!  Simply put fasting is abstaining from something and more often than not it refers to food and drink.  These items are essential for our physical well-being and whenever it is threatened we go into self-defense postures… We must have our food. 

But there is food available that we don’t take into account, the food that leads to spiritual life.  Jesus called Himself the bread of life, manna from heaven.  He also said that He had food that the disciples knew nothing about in that His food was to do the will of the Father (John 4:34).  It seems that fasting has a way of bringing us closer to God and His Son by refocusing on the things that are important.  By demonstrating to God and ourselves that He is Who we are truly reliant on for all that we need, including the things that sustain our lives, both physical and spiritual.  How close are you and God?  Are you willing to grow closer?  Look at what God’s people have done through prayer and fasting!

Copyright © 2004, Nolan P. Rutter

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