Updated: Nov 5
Last time in Part 4 we looked at the Lord’s prayer and saw that we must forgive people who have done us wrong, otherwise we ourselves will not be forgiven.
In this our 5th and final part we consider fasting.
Generally fasting means going without food for a period of time for spiritual purposes. We can also fast from other things that give us personal pleasure such as watching television etc.
Matthew 6:16 “When you fast, do not look sombre as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,
18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
v16-18 Motive is crucial here, if you outward appearance is to let people know you are fasting than there is no further reward from God. Like giving and praying, fasting is best kept secret and hidden from people. All forms of our self denial should be covert and not paraded before men but rather done directly before the gaze of our Lord.
Matthew 9:14-17 Time to fast?
14 Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?"
15 And Jesus said to them, "Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.
16 No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse.
17 Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."
v15 Jesus the bridegroom was still with the disciples at this point of time. This was not the time for mourning and fasting but that time would come later. A good general guide as to when to fast is when you feel that the Bridegroom (Jesus) is absent or distant.
v17 We need to be born again so that our new wineskin can accommodate the new wine of the Holy Spirit.
Do you fast on a regular basis my brother, my sister?
I must confess that I find fasting exceedingly difficult to do, so I tend to fast only when the chips are down, and I need clear direction from the Lord (please pray for me).
Things to remember about fasting
Our fasting does not move God
Our fasting does not impress God
Our fasting simply helps us put our flesh under so that we can hear what God is saying!
Our fasted prayer may help us to do correct actions that may lead to a better witness for Jesus Christ.