Fasting (Matt 6:16-18)
Old Testament: In the Old Testament, it was a regular part of their religious life.
o The Day of Atonement was the only required fast.
• The Prophet Joel called the people to a fast of repentance. Joel 2:12-13
• In 2 Chronicles King Jehoshaphat calls the whole nation to a fast in the face of an invading army.
• Fasting is often associated with acts of repentance in the OT. Neh 8:18-9:2
• Fasting was associated with desperately seeking the Lord’s face and presence. Psalm 109:21-26; Daniel 9: 3
• Fasting is also associated with mourning in the OT. Esther 4:3
New Testament Era: Matt 6:16-18
Verse 16 Do you notice how matter of fact Jesus is with this? Not if you fast, but when you fast.
• Jesus clearly sees this as a practice that will continue
o We definitely don’t talk about this nearly as much as the other issues in the sermon on the Mount.
So, I just wonder why fasting doesn’t get as much attention as the other issues?
Does the enemy know the power in fasting and wants to keep us from it?
• As the sermon on the mount continues Jesus talks about storing treasures in heaven and not worrying.
o I think the order of these passages is not by accident.
o Fasting can be a key to these two areas.
Remember: Jesus begins His public ministry with a fast
Different kinds of fasts: We see a few different types of fasts in the bible.
• All of which involved going without food.
• First, the normal fast. This is fasting from all food, not eating at all. But still drinking water, or juice.
• Second, the partial fast. This is abstaining from certain kinds of food.
o We see Daniel do this. Daniel 1:12; Daniel 10:3
• Third, the absolute fast This is giving up both food and water for a period of three days.
o We see a few biblical examples of this. Ezera 10:6; Esther 4:16; Acts 9: 7-9
• Fourth, The Miraculous fast, A number of different biblical examples.
Time periods: There of course can be different time periods for a fast.
• You can skip one meal a day; a one day fast; a three day fast; All the way up to a forty day fast.
Now let’s ask the big question: Why fast, what do I get out of it?
• Often there is a misconception that we fast to get something from God. Of course, it doesn’t work that way.
There are many benefits of fasting:
• Facilitating and enabling prayer; Overcoming the forces of evil; Turning down the volume of our flesh.
• Humbling ourselves before the Lord, putting the Lord first
• High level, perhaps even desperate seeking of the Lord.
Fasting (Matt 6:16-18)