What is fasting?

Wikipedia states:

Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, usually a single day (24 hours), or several daytime periods. Other fasts may be only partially restrictive, limiting particular foods or substance. The fast may also be intermittent in nature. Fasting practices may preclude sexual and other activities as well as food.

More specifically, fasting as outlined in the Bible, involves abstaining from food and or drink,  or certain activities, for the purpose of humbling oneself, or a body of believers, with the chief end of knowing and doing God’s will in order to bring Him glory.

Jesus, in the gospel of Matthew, sandwiched between words on how to pray (vv. 1-15) and the cure for worry/anxiety (vv.19-34), gave instruction on how to fast “when you fast” (vv.16-18). It is assumed as a discipline of the faith.  Here are a few selected principles Jesus outlined for his followers to observe:

  1. Have the right motive – Fast for God, not men.
  2. Have the right attitude and actions – Fasting is not a reality TV show “The World’s Biggest Faster” (oxymoron for sure).  Look nice, pop some gum or tic tacs to keep the bad breath away, shower, and look nice.  Don’t be complaining about hunger; that’s when you should pray all the more.
  3. Have confidence that, if done with the right motive and the right way, fasting holds a reward from God (not to be determined ahead of time by any man).

Here are some  helpful website resources for further information:

  1. How, Why, and To What End?  Desiring God Church
  2. What is missions as fasting?  Desiring God (John Piper’s ministry) conference message “Missions as Fasting”  You can download the sermon too.
  3. Quotes from theologians and categories on purpose for fasts
  4. Mark Driscoll on fasting as a spiritual discipline to reveal idols
  5. The Gospel Coalition has a feast of articles on prayer and fasting

Our church family, Faith Baptist Church of Lafyatette, IN,  will be uniting in a voluntary fast on Sunday, March 6, 2011 to humble ourselves and seek God’s direction and desire regarding a location (property or building) on or near the Purude University campus (West Lafayette, IN) to offer free biblical counseling, Bible studies, and other various services and ministries to those on and near the Purdue campus.  You are invited to join us, if you as a follower of Christ, desire to join in our endeavor to bring God glory in pursuing His leading.

One logical question an outsider may be asking is “why is this private, or church body, exercise being publicized?”  Great question.  One reason for us is that our missionaries and friends of our minstry that span the globe have asked us to keep them informed of what God is doing here at Faith and to let them know how they can be praying.  Public promotion builds a greater unity.  Also, we want as many people praying and fasting as possible.  Lastly, we want the world to see what God chooses to do.  We anticipate our great God revealing Himself in an amazing way.  You are invited to join us if you would like.

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Andy WoodallAndy Woodall
Andy Woodall served as the Pastor of Student Ministries at Faith from 1999-2012.