Recently I preached on fasting, and I would like to post the outline to my sermon, and then, in manuscript form, my five points explaining why Christians should fast. I would like to hear your comments on this topic that we rarely discuss.
Fasting: Jesus > Food
Main point: Fasting shows that we desire Jesus more than any pleasure this world can offer.
Old Testament: Do not eat bacon
New Testament: Eat bacon if you want (Mark 7:19)
1. We are free to eat what we want- I Timothy 4:1-3
Danger: We can love food more than Jesus: Philippians 3:19
2. We can be enslaved by what we eat- I Corinthians 6:12-13
Danger: We think eating or not eating certain foods makes us more acceptable to God:
I Corinthians 8:8
B. Isaiah 58: The Heart of Fasting
1. Our desire for God
2. Our desperation for God
-I have fasted before, but I am certainly a beginner
-Not everyone can fast from food or all food: Talk to your doctor
-Fasting is done not to control God; it is not done to show off to others.
Why do we fast?
1. To test and increase our desire for God (Isaiah 58)
What do we desire more, the gifts or the Giver?
“It’s a physical exclamation point at the end of the sentence, ‘We hunger for you, O God, to come in power.’ It’s a cry with our body, not just our soul: ‘I really mean it, Lord! This much, I hunger for you. I want the manifestation of you yourself more than I want food.'” – John Piper
2. To devote ourselves to prayer and fellowship with God
-The Bible often connects prayer and fasting
-Give up breakfast and lunch and spend that time to read God’s Word and pray.
“Here there is no extortion, no magic attempt to force God’s will. We merely look with confidence upon our heavenly Father and through our fasting say gently in our hearts: ‘Father, without you I will die; come to my assistance, make haste to help me.'” -Joseph Wimmer
-Maybe God’s means of answering your prayers for healing or salvation of loved one is prayer and fasting.
3. To fight sin
-Matthew 4:1-4: Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
-Jesus’ forty day fast was one of the means by which he fought temptation.
“Fasting is a periodic–and sometimes decisive–declaration that we would rather feast at God’s table in the kingdom of heaven than feed on the finest delicacies of this world.” – John Piper
4. To ask God for revival and missionaries
Acts 13:1-3: Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
Carl Lundquist, former president of Bethel College and Seminary, speaks of his journey in understanding fasting: “My own serious consideration of fasting as a spiritual discipline began as a result of visiting Dr. Joon Gon Kim in Seoul, Korea. “Is it true,” I asked him, “that you spent 40 days in fasting prior to the evangelism crusade in 1980?” “Yes, ” he responded, “it is true.” Dr. Kim was chairman of the crusade expected to bring a million people to YoidoPlaza. But six months before the meeting the police informed him they were revoking their permission for the crusade. Korea at that time was in political turmoil and Seoul was under martial law. The officers decided they could not take the risk of having so many people together in one place. So Dr. Kim and some associates went to a prayer mountain and there spent 40 days before God in prayer and fasting for the crusade. Then they returned and made their way to the police station. “Oh,” said the officer when he saw Dr. Kim, “we have changed our mind and you can have your meeting!”
As I went back to the hotel I reflected that I had never fasted like that. Perhaps I had never desired a work of God with the same intensity . . . His body is marked by many 40 day fasts during his long spiritual leadership of God’s work in Asia. Also, however, I haven’t seen the miracles Dr. Kim has.”
5. To look for Christ’s return
Matthew 9:14-15 (25:1-13): Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 15 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.
“The absence of fasting is indicative of our comfort with the way things are. No one fasts to express how content they are. People only fast out of dissatisfaction. ‘The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast’ (Matthew 9:15). The absence of fasting is the measure of our contentment with the absence of Christ.” -John Piper
1. Do you love Jesus more than food? Prove it.
2. Do you desire God?
“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” (John 7:37)