Daily Devotional – Day 6
“When You Fast”
Read: Matthew 6:16-18
“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
According to Jesus, there are several disciplines He desired us to perform. He said, “When you give” in Matthew 6:2 and “When you pray” in Matthew 6:5. But Jesus also said, “When you fast” in Matthew 6:16. He didn’t say “if” you pray, give or fast but “when”. He fully expected us to do all three. Most believers wouldn’t exclude prayer and giving from their worship but all too often many exclude the important discipline of fasting.
The best Biblical definition of fasting is abstaining from food for spiritual gain. It can also mean abstaining from other activities as well. Daniel fasted from entertainment (Daniel 6:18) and Paul mentions abstaining from sexual intimacy with one’s spouse for prayer (1 Corinthians 7:5). There are several examples of fasting in Scripture. Jesus fasted 40 days (Matthew 4:2) and so did Moses (Deuteronomy 9:9-18). David fasted (2 Samuel 12:1-14; Psalm 35:13; 69:10). Elijah, Ezra, Daniel, Darius, Esther, Paul, and even the church elders fasted. Since these fasts were all different lengths and done in different ways, each person is free to set the length between them and God. For some, it may be one meal a day or certain foods for a few days. What is fasted from isn’t the main issue. It is what is fasted for. The purpose of fasting is gaining a closer relationship with Christ as we bring our physical desires under the control of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus’ focus wasn’t on the method or length but on the attitude of the heart and mind. Pharisees had a certain routine they followed when fasting and everyone knew by their appearance they were in a fast. They even fasted on certain days so others would know they were fasting. Their motives were not pure as they wanted everyone to see their religious actions. They would put dirt and ashes on themselves and even leave their hair and faces dirty and a mess. Jesus attacked their motives and instructed His true disciples to keep their fasting between them and the Lord. The three main principles Jesus gives is pure motives, private worship, and unto the Lord.
- When you fast, do you let everyone know about it?
- Is it acceptable to tell someone else you are fasting? For what purpose?
- Do you regularly include fasting in your devotion to the Lord? Why is this a difficult discipline?
- What motives do you have for fasting? What are your goals?
- Are you more concerned about what you are fasting from than what you are praying for?
Lord, help me to practice fasting in my devotion to You. Help me seek your more as I die to physical desires. Help all my spirit, soul, and body be subjected to your Holy Spirit’s influence. I desire my motives to be pure and my relationship enhanced. Give me the strength and wisdom necessary so my fasting is pleasing and worshipful to You. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Church Prayer Request:
What has God showed you concerning the church during your fast? Pick three areas/people in the church and fast for them this next week.
Stephen and his wife Haley have called Arkansas home all of their lives. Stephen has served in several ministry roles over the last 25 years and as a lead pastor for the last 8 years. Stephen attended Williams Baptist College and earned a BA in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University, an MA, MDiv, and DMin in Christian Leadership and Pastoral Ministries from Liberty University. When not pastoring, Stephen enjoys running, cycling, reading, writing, camping, fishing, and spending time with his family.