Wednesday, May 14, 2008
DID GOD CALL YOU TO FAST? USE WISDOM
Has God called you to fast? Why do we fast? How can you know if He has called you to fast? Do you think fasting is a Christian requirement? Is there more than one way to fast? Can fasting make you a better Christian or cause God to hear you clearer? These are a few of many questions asked concerning fasting or that we need to ask ourselves if we've thought about this act of cleansing, consecration, meditation, and focus.
Some of these answers should be personal, like the first two, but some we need to be educated on and we need to exercise wisdom and gain a great knowledge and understanding about. Fasting is an old practice, practiced as far back as Bible days. Even Jesus fasted. That fact alone says that it can't be wrong, but there is a time, place, and way to do everything, and there should be a sure leading into doing it.
There are some amazing reasons out there for why people fast and some are not Biblical. Some people fast for weight loss reasons, some people fast because they've been told or convinced that they are not real Christians if they don't, some people fast to appear more spiritual, and some people fast because it's something to do-why not?
On the flip side of the above, there are amazing results and blessings for people who have fasted when, how, and why God said to do so. If God lead or prompted a fast, you can be sure that it's not only the right thing to do, but that He will give you the wisdom, strength, sustenance through prayer and His Word, and He will be glorified. Whether you have a mountain-top experience after a fast or feel no really big changes at all, you can be sure that you and the circumstances are not the same. Obedience to God's prompting alone glorifies Him and strengthens your faith in Him. That is change good enough.
Like in everything that means anything in life, we should get understanding about fasting. Recently, I read an article by Dr. Bill Bright (The founder of Campus Crusade for Christ) that gave a clear picture of fasting, a practical way to go into a fast, what to expect through one, his experiences with fasts, and how to come out of one. It was very interesting, insightful, and practical. I recommend anyone who is curious about fasting or feel they've heard from the Lord to go into one read this article. I have certainly benefited from his insight, wisdom, and experience, and have saved the article so that I can refer back to it when or if necessary. The link to the article is http://www.billbright.com/howtofast/index.html.
There are hundreds of articles on the Internet about fasting, but reader beware!! There are some with really wild benefits to fasting and really false non or un-Biblical reasons. Does every fast need to be spiritual or Biblically based? That's up to you. Fasting has such benefits that it should never be taken flippantly or lightly though. There may be times for a type of fast just for internal body cleansing or to let your body have a rest from certain foods, or perhaps to kill a chronic craving for sweets, etc. by denying your body that certain thing for so long that you don't crave it anymore, or as much. This is certainly a different take on the type of fasting I'm referring to in my post, and I don't see these fasts as "wrong." You can certainly do what you choose to do as right or healthy for your body or lifestyle, but for the type we're talking about in this post, God's leading needs to be your only reason for fasting and He will be clear in letting you know. He will make everything about the ordeal clear.
Bill Bright suggests consulting a physician or not doing a fast altogether (for those with severe or chronic health problems that would make fasting dangerous or fatal). He does mention though, that for the healthy, fasting is rewarding.
I thought I'd write this post today because for Christians, we're living in a time where things are "heavy," to say the least, and/or God is calling us to a deeper relationship and fellowship with Him. He may or may not be calling you to fast to make something happen. Sometimes that "something" is just for you to re-focus your affections and attentions on Him, and guys, that's good enough reason all by itself! Our goal in fasting, meditating, or worship is to turn our total attention and affections toward Christ. We need no other reason or need not look for anything else. But, there are times, as mentioned in Mark 9:29 and Matthew 17:21, where God has chosen fasting and praying, by us, to be His method or conduit by which He causes great change from serious issues.
Wouldn't it be a privilege if He chose you? Wouldn't you love to be obedient to the call of fasting because God was getting ready to do something? Wouldn't you just love to deepen your relationship and just be silent before Him because the lack or denial of something (fasting) has given you the freedom to get there? If God has not called you to fast, DON'T. If He has, get ready for a tough and totally rewarding experience that will change your life and perhaps somebody else's. When God is involved, THINGS CHANGE!
I encourage you to read the article by Bill Bright and other reputable Christian authors with fasting experience, look for great books in the book stores and online that talk about it, and talk to others who have had great experience with obedience to fasting. When or if God calls you, you'll be ready and would have gained great understanding into this wonderful privilege of God.
Sorry this article is posted late, but as I've said before, family and priorities first. I'm just glad that I got to think on and post this article at all today. It's been full and busy around here. I hope this post has blessed you. Have a wise Wednesday!