September 23

The Spiritual Discipline of Fasting

Acts 13:1-13

Fasting has two important components. One is abstention from food or activities, which eliminates distractions. The other is undivided attention on God, which allows connection with Him on a deeper level.

Daniel was living under captivity in Babylon when he read God's promise to free the Israelites after a certain period of time. He earnestly sought the Lord by means of prayer and fasting (Dan. 9:2-3). Then through the angel Gabriel, God gave the young man greater understanding of what He had previously pledged.

Scripture has other examples as well. When King Jehoshaphat learned that a powerful army was on the offensive, he called for all Judah to come together and fast (2 Chron. 20:1-4). God gave encouragement and strength for the future. Fasting was also part of the early church's preparation for choosing its first missionaries. The Holy Spirit directed the commissioning of Barnabas and Saul for the work (Acts 13:2).

Fasting does not bring us a quicker answer from God or persuade Him to follow our plan. Instead, it prepares us to see our situation through His eyes and to act on what we learn. At times I have sought the Lord to get His assessment of how I am doing. This discipline has helped me gain His perspective on my life and work.

Fasting involves a strong desire to hear from God, a period of time to connect with Him, and a willingness to abstain from food or some activity. If the idea intimidates you, remember its purpose is preparation so we might draw closer to God and receive His encouragement and direction.

For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org.

Used with permission from In Touch Ministries, Inc. © 2009 All Rights Reserved.