Unless we understand that fasting is an act of worship, it can develop into an attempt to manipulate God. Noting Dr Elmer Towns, “Even if we wanted to, we could not manipulate God. We fast and pray for results, but the results are in God’s hands. One of the greatest spiritual benefits of fasting is becoming more attentive to God—becoming more aware of our own inadequacies and His adequacy, our own contingencies and His self-sufficiency—and listening to what He wants us to be and do.”
As I contemplate fasting the question that comes to mind is, what is at the core of fasting?
Is it the discipline of sacrifice to make us feel closer to God in an attempt please to him? This sounds too much like works. A lady told me some 30 years ago, that she liked to walk to church because it made her feel she had sacrificed something to God and that it prepared her for church. In those early days I though just listening to my messages were sacrifice enough. However scripture reminds us, ‘For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.’ * Psalms 51:16-17 (ESV)
Fasting and prayer is a journey of a contrite heart, a journey that may bring about a brokenness as we encounter God. Brokenness from the trials and struggles of life is the motivation that leads us into time of special prayer and fasting. Fasting is a journey of transformation, a journey away from the everyday distraction seeking for a greater clarity to listen. It is a journey of humility coming to that place of renewed dependence upon God. It is also a search for answers, wisdom, direction and the intervention of God. Where do you need an intervention of God today?
‘The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.’ * Psalms 51:17 (ESV) The broken spirit may be the place of coming to the end of ourselves, that place where we acknowledge that we cannot do it in our strength. It is the place of true repentance and of total dependence upon God; it is the place of the contrite heart, the humble heart that is not self-reliant but God reliant. As the song writers penned,
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
Songwriters: Keith Getty / Stuart Townend. In Christ Alone lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group
Prayer and fasting is sometimes seen as a means of moving heaven and hell, however I believe that it is a place firstly to move us, to the place where we depend on Christ alone and walking in the peace and joy of His presence, in line with his will. As the Lord’s Prayer states in Matthew 10:6 KJV. ‘Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven’,and in our lives first. When this happens, everything changes for; this is the journey of prayer and fasting.