Fasting is a person’s willingness to abstain from or reduce some or all food, drink, or both for some time. When we hear the term “fasting,” we often think of someone on a diet. Some individuals practice fasting because they wish to slim down. Others fasting is to save their health conditions. There could be numerous reasons why people do fast.
I noticed that people practice fasting not to lose weight but because of a spiritual obligation in the Middle East. It’s a sacrificial offering to God Almighty –an oblation. During Ramadan (Ramzan), the Muslim community practices fasting. And I was captivated by their devotion and adherence to this oblation.
To give you a little context, Ramzan, also known as Ramadan in the West, is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is the month of fasting, and it is the holiest period for Muslims. During this month of fasting, Muslims do not eat between sunrise and sunset. They do, however, pray in addition to the five times a day required prayers by the faith. Muslims also remember that during this glorious month, God Almighty revealed the words of the Quran to Prophet Mohammed for the first time (pbuh). As a result, they ensure that they recite, read, and comprehend the Quran while fasting during Ramadan.
The thought of making a spiritual offering to God Almighty is notably appealing! This spiritual practice has both inspired me and piqued my interest. Fasting is not clear or practiced in my Christian community, which I grew up with. I only know when someone is fasting that they are on a diet. As a person of faith, this entire setup has raised many questions, such as:
- Is fasting mentioned in the Bible?
- Why do most Christian leaders not encourage fasting?
- What is the significance of fasting?
- Is it necessary for me to fast?
- Am I allowed to practice fasting?
I was troubled, and at the same time, I had the impression that believing and accepting Jesus as Christ, the Lord, and savior was grossly inadequate. I need and must do more! I felt compelled to please our Creator to the best of my ability. The thought of falling behind is there. Can you imagine our Muslim brothers and sisters? They do not eat from dawn to dusk, nor consume alcohol, and refrain from lustful desires such as sex. They abstain from worldly affairs and strive to do things that please our God Almighty –they practice fasting.
I’m humiliated. Fasting is not in my range, and I never attempt to practice it. But I assert that I am a believer, a person of faith.
What is your oblation for Ash Wednesday? What are your Holy Week rituals? To visit 12 churches and then eat festively? Do you attend a service mass and eat festive meals with family or friends after? Do you drink alcohol to celebrate a religious event? What were your spiritual sacrifices? Do you read the Bible during the Lenten season or at Christmas? We are coming up short.
Fasting is Worth Your Attention
Helpful Reads: 11 Myths about Islam and Muslims, Can Christians Eat Halal Food?, 5 Best Spiritual Fasting for Beginners, How to Know if God is in our Hearts, 5 Things Christians To Do More, Festival of Sacrifice, 10 Surprising Similarities of Christians and Muslims
What does the Bible have to say about Fasting?
According to Matthew 4:2, Jesus (pbuh) practiced fasting for forty days and forty nights. It is after he was baptized through the holy spirit. He was even tempted in the wilderness during his fasting period by Satan. And this significant event is also confirmed in Luke 4:2. So, the question of why I am not fasting rises. If we follow Jesus, who practiced fasting, why do we not do the same?
Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust (Acts 14:23). Why am I not fasting if the early followers of Jesus were? Are you fasting as a follower of Jesus?
Prophet Moses was there with the Lord for forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:28). It is crystal clear that fasting has always been a part of our spiritual obligation. So, why aren’t we practicing it?
What does the Bible tell about Fasting and Prayer?
- Joel 1:14 – Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the Lord your God and cry out to the Lord.
- Joel 2:12 – “Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
- Psalm 35:13 – But I, when they were sick— I wore sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting; I prayed with head bowed on my chest.
- Ezra 8:21 – Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods.
These are a few of the many Bible verses that emphasize the importance of fasting and prayer. But why aren’t we doing this? Let’s take a look at the following.
7 Biblical Circumstances which Man sought GOD through Fasting.
- Preparation to Ministry. Again, this is Jesus’ story of fasting after his baptism. (Matthew 4:1-17; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-14).
- To seek God’s wisdom. The story of Paul and Barnabas which I have mentioned above through Acts 14:23.
- To express of grief. Remember the story of Nehemiah when he mourned, fasted, and prayed after learning Jerusalem’s walls had been broken down, leaving the Israelites vulnerable and disgraced (Nehemiah 1:1-4).
- To seek protection and deliverance. Remember the story of Ezra when she declared a communal fast and prayed for a safe journey for the Israelites as they made the 900- mile trek to Jerusalem from Babylon (Ezra 8:21-23).
- To repent. Jonah 3:10 says, “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He relented and did not bring on them the destruction He had threatened.”
- To gain victory. Judges 20:26 says all the people went up to Bethel and “sat weeping before the Lord.” They also “fasted that day until evening.” The next day the Lord gave them victory over the Benjamites.
- Most importantly to worship God. Luke 2 tells the story of an 84-year-old prophetess named Anna. Verse 37 says, “She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.” Anna was devoted to God, and fasting was one expression of her love for Him.
Despite this, the majority of us do not fast. We believe there is no need or significance. Or maybe because we were mold without it. Often we think that life is too short for such an uphill battle. On the other hand, it has broadened my horizons and my heart. I want to fulfill an obligation that will please my Creator. I’m inspired to make a spiritual offering practiced ever since by the Prophets and followers of the faith.
Consciousness Hits Me
I learned and realized that fasting is a vital part of our faith. Fasting is our willingness to abstinence from physical gratification to reach a more significant spiritual goal. If you fast, you deny your flesh gaining lustful desires but allow your spiritual aspect to be in a better state. You can concentrate on nurturing your relationship with our God Almighty through fasting.
I’m taking a baby step in my spiritual growth. As part of my Christmas celebrations last year and counting, I thanked God Almighty for guiding me through my fasting period. Although, it was only on Fridays and Saturdays (6 AM to 6 PM). During this time, I took the opportunity to read scriptures or watch and listen to religious lectures to help me contemplate and improve the health of my soul. It’s only the beginning. This year, we have several chances to practice such discipline. Take advantage of the opportunity to practice fasting. I assure you that it will strengthen your relationship with our Supreme Creator.
And, absolutely! I’m delighted to invite you to consider fasting as part of your spiritual growth. I felt relieved after finishing my fast in December 2019. My heart grew and was revitalized. The desire to learn more about God’s will awoke. I became brave, overcame my pains, and felt satisfied. And because of this beautiful experience, I felt compelled to share this with you!
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