Fasting? But We Don’t Have To!

fastI was driving down the road today and had to stop and take a picture of a sign I saw.  It was a church sign announcing to all passers-by that they were going to fast and pray for 21 days.

When I saw the sign, I couldn’t help but remember the words of Jesus.  He instructed that when we fast we do so in a way that others would not know and in which we would not draw attention to ourselves  (Matthew 6:16-18).

But just as mistaken as it is for one to broadcast his fasting to the world, it is also mistaken for one to never fast at all.

Think with me.  Can you remember a discussion on the topic of fasting that didn’t begin with someone quickly saying, “But the Bible doesn’t command us to fast”?  That reminds me of the person who says when discussing the merits of mid-week Bible study, “But the Bible doesn’t command us to meet on Wednesday night.”

Jesus was once asked why his disciples didn’t fast.  To summarize his answer, he said it was because he was still with them, but when he is gone, “then they would fast” (Matthew 9:14-15; Mark 2:18-20; Luke 5:33-35).

Furthermore, the early church fasted.  They fasted when missionaries were sent forth (Acts 13:2-3).  They fasted when they appointed elders (Acts 14:23).  And Paul gave guidelines to husbands and wives concerning fasting (1 Corinthians 7:5).

Friends, while Jesus didn’t command his disciples to fast, he expected they would.  And when we examine the life of the New Testament church, we see that fasting was a spiritual discipline they practiced.

When one advertises to the world on a road sign that they are fasting, they make themselves an easy mark.  But how much more an easy mark do the disciples of Jesus make themselves who never fast and never do what Jesus expected them to do? Give it some thought, and share your comments.

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Comments 4

  • Lest some say they can not fast because they have some condition (such as diabetes)…. remember that you can fast in more ways than just food.

  • The last chapter of my book, “Lord Teach Us To Pray” is on Fasting. Good thoughts Steve

  • Thank you. Very thought-provoking! I agree whole-heartedly but have fallen short. Now I know to ask for forgiveness and do what I need to do to be faithful. Thanks again.

  • Good thoughts, Steve. I agree that while there is not an explicit “Thou shalt fast” Jesus had the expectation that his followers would do so. “But when you fast…” suggests it was a given that they’d do it.

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