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Fasting Can Draw You Closer to God

  • 2002 18 Jan
Fasting Can Draw You Closer to God
How well acquainted are you with the spiritual discipline of fasting? The spiritual blessing of feasting? Would you just as soon skip the fast and go directly to the feast? Do you fear that knowledge about fasting will bring responsibility? What is your mental image of those who fast?

In Jesus' day, fasting was as much a part of religious experience as was prayer. In the eighteenth century John Wesley, founder of Methodism and a key player in the Great Awakening, revived the practice of fasting and "urged early Methodists to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays."

Spiritual feasts were instituted by God when He gave the Law during Old Testament times. While these were feasts of actual food and beverage, they represented spiritual blessing. ...

Dr. Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ states: "God's Word declares fasting and prayer as a powerful means for causing the fire of God to fall again in a person's life. ... As fasting and prayer brings surrender of body, soul, and spirit to our Lord Jesus Christ, it also generates a heightened sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit; it creates a fresh, clean joy and a determination to serve God. In short, it brings personal revival." ...

When the word fast is mentioned, it is common to think of food. Contemporary Christian writers point out that other forms of fasting are also effective. According to Dr. [Wesley] Duewel, "fasting is a God-ordained form of self-denial ... We think of fasting as abstaining primarily from food. However, fasting may include abstaining from such normal activities as sleep, recreation, and other special enjoyments." ...

Dr. Wesley Duewel makes these practical suggestions for fasting:

  • Fast for a meal occasionally, and spend the mealtime (and, if possible, additional time) in prayer.

  • Pray about planning for fasting as a regular part of your devotional life-one meal a month or perhaps one day a month ... or one or two meals each week.

  • Spend the first part of your time feasting on God's Word, worshiping, adoring, and praising the Lord. Then concentrate on one or perhaps two major prayer concerns.

  • Be flexible in your fasting. Avoid legalistic bondage, and don't take a vow concerning fasting. Rather, set a fasting goal that you seek to fulfill by God's help.

  • Do not attempt long fasts (twenty to forty days) unless you have been informed how to do it and how break the fast at the close. ... Keep drinking liquids, for the body needs water.

  • Keep a listening ear for the Lord's guidance when He calls you to a special fast for a particular need.

  • Keep your fasting a matter between you and God alone. (Unless you feel God wants you to share it.)

In addition to these suggestions, I suggest that especially for an extended fast (more than a day) you check with your physician first. And if you have any conditions that preclude you for fasting from meals, perhaps try a limited fast - give up unnecessary between-meal snacks or sacrifice a favorite food for a set amount of time.

Excerpted from At Jesus' Feet: A Bible Study for Women Based on the Story of Mary and Martha: Learning to Draw Near by Kirkie Morrissey, copyright 2000 by The Navigators. Used by permission of NavPress, www.navpress.com. All rights reserved. For copies of the book, call 1-800-366-7788.

Kirkie Morrissey speaks at local and national conferences and also teaches a class at her church. She is the author of several books and writes newsletter articles for ministry organizations.

Have you ever fasted? If so, what was the experience like for you? Was it beneficial, and if so, why? Visit the Books Forum to discuss this topic. Just click on the link below.

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