As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again.
The following are some of my notes from Sunday's sermon at Providence Church,"Fasting and Feasting."
16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:16-18, ESV)Click to listen:
Principle & Application:
- Principle - Do your righteous deeds to please God, not to impress others (Matthew 6:1)
- Application - Giving (6:2-4); Prayer (6:5-15); and Fasting (6:16-18)
Definition: Fasting - “a Christian’s voluntary abstinence from food for spiritual purposes.” (Don Whitney, Spiritual Disciples for the Christian Life)
10 major categories of purpose in fasting:
- To Strengthen Prayer
- To Seek God’s Guidance
- To Express Grief
- To Seek Deliverance or Protection
- To Express Repentance and Return to God
- To Humble Oneself Before God
- To Express Concern for the Work of God
- To Minister to the Needs of Others – Giving away the money you’d have spent on food.
- To Overcome Temptation and Dedicate Yourself to God
- To Express Love and Worship to God
“In Scripture we see several purposes for fasting. It’s part of the discipline of self-control; it’s a way of sharing that we depend on God alone and draw all our strength and resources from him; it’s a way of focusing totally on him when seeking his guidance and help, and of showing that you really are in earnest in your quest; it’s also, at times, an expression of sorrow and deep repentance, something that a person or community will do in order to acknowledge failure before God and seek his mercy.” (J.I. Packer)
“It is sobering to realize that the very first statement Jesus made about fasting dealt with the question of motive. To use good things to our own ends is always the sign of false religion...Fasting must forever center on God. It must be God-initiated and God-ordained...Fasting reminds us that we are sustained by ‘every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’ (Matt. 4:4)...Therefore, in experiences of fasting we are not so much abstaining from food as we are feasting on the word of God. Fasting is feasting!” (Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline)
How NOT to fast (Matt 6:16) - Looking somber, complaining about hunger, telling people who don’t need to know. (Cf. Luke 18:9-14)
Per the prophets, without right conduct fasting was/is in vain (e.g., Isaiah 58:1-12; Jer 14:11-12)
Hot to fast (Matt 6:17-18) - Fast for God’s eyes, not to impress others.
Fasting is feasting, but on a different kind of food. (Matt. 4:4; Deut 8:3)
Fasting is a good reminder of our frailty and dependence on God and that nothing else in life really satisfies but the Lord Himself.
“Now, remember, you will never know the fullness of Christ until you know the emptiness of everything else but Christ." (Charles Spurgeon)