Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I saw to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
Fasting is not a great spiritual virtue by itself. You are no more spiritual when you eat as to when you don’t eat, except when you move into the issue of self-control. In Romans 14:17, Paul said, “The
Fasting is personal, noncompulsory, spontaneous, and voluntary. It can be a one, three, seven, or 21-day fast. It doesn’t matter—some have even practiced 40-day fast with juices only. And then there are those extreme fasts with no food or drink. I’ve even heard of vegetarian fasts, where no meat is eaten, such as the illustration found in Daniel.
The physical and material aspect of a fast is not as vital as the spiritual. The principle of fasting is to abstain from food, drink, or some other physical necessity in order to devote your time to prayer. Fasting in Scripture is closely related to humbling ourselves before God. It means to deny and dethrone yourself in order to seek God first in your life.
When you examine the lives of those individuals in Christian history such as Moses, Samuel, Saul, David, Samson, Hannah, Elijah, Esther, Daniel, John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, and Jesus (just to name a few) you will note that they all fasted and prayed as a matter of spiritual discipline in their lives. When you fast, don’t do it for religious piety, but instead do it to focus on the Lord and develop your spiritual life.
FAST FOR THE RIGHT REASONS—INCREASED FOCUS ON THE LORD AND SPIRITUAL GROWTH.