Become – Silence and Solitude- Fasting – Stephen Orr 25/04/21

Passage: Matthew 6: 16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Kingdom Kids Activity

Click here for a ‘Daily Examen for Kids’ guide from Vineyard.

Changed by Fasting

We live in a noisy world where distraction is normal, and it is damaging our relationship with God, by taking away the things we run to instead of God it help us to focus of God.

Why Fast? This is a question many ask.

We Fast because Jesus did and because Jesus said in Matthew 6 “When you fast,”. We also see other biblical greats fasted. The Habit of Fasting has the powerful ability to help us become more like Jesus, becoming the disciples he desires us to be.

In the Bible we see Fasting connected to:

Seeking forgiveness: Israel several times, Nineveh, Ezra, David
Seeking guidance and favour: Nehemiah, Daniel, Anna, Cornelius, Esther, Ezra
Before something big: Moses before receiving the commandments, Jesus before starting his ministry, when Barnabas and Saul are Sent Off (Acts 13:2) when Paul and Barnabas committed a new elder to the Lord (Acts 14:23).

Throughout scripture fasting refers to abstaining from food for spiritual purposes.
More than any other discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us.
(
Richard Foster in ‘Celebration of Discipline’)

We constantly seek to fill our emptiness with food and other comforts. We ignore our soul and our neighbours need by medicating with food and drink. Regular fasting exposes who we really are, reminds us how broken the world is, and draws our eyes to how Jesus is redeeming all things. (Justin Whitmel Earley in ‘The Common Rule’)

Fasting exposes who we really are and the things that control us

Fasting reminds us how broken the world is

Fasting draws our eyes to how Jesus is redeeming all things.

But why in the wilderness? Why alone? And why after forty days of fasting? When he’s hungry? For years this story made no sense to me because I thought of the wilderness as the place of weakness.
I read it this way: Isn’t that so like the devil? To come at us at the end of a long day or a long week? When we’re hangry and at our worst?
But then I realized I had it backward. The wilderness isn’t the place of weakness; it’s the place of strength.
“Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness” because it was there, and only there, that Jesus was at the height of his spiritual powers. It was only after a month and a half of prayer and fasting in the quiet place that he had the capacity to take on the devil himself and walk away unscathed. (
John Mark Comer in ‘The Ruthless elimination of Hurry’)

James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Fasting helps us to resist the Devil and follow God’s way

Isaiah 58:1   “Cry aloud; do not hold back;
lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet they seek me daily
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they delight to draw near to God.
3 ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.
4 Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
and a day acceptable to the LORD?

They used Fasting for selfish desires and gain

6    “Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,

Fasting help us break these in our lives. Fasting exposes who we really are and the things that control us

to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?

Fasting helps us to break these in the world. Fasting reminds us how broken the world is


Fasting changes how we interact with the world

7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

Fasting changes us

8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’

If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,

10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,

then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.

Fasting draws our eyes to how Jesus redeems all things

11 And the LORD will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.

12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.
13 “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the LORD honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
14 then you shall take delight in the LORD,
and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
afor the mouth of the LORD has spoken

God uses Silence and Solitude and changes us through Fasting

Apply

This week choose something to fast from, and think about these 3 points from earlier.

Fasting reminds us how broken the world is

Fasting draws our eyes to how Jesus is redeeming all things.

What have you learnt from you fast that can help you to resistive devil and follow God’s way?

What have I found interesting? 

What has challenged my life, attitudes and actions

How would this habit help me to become more like Jesus?

How would this habit help me to introduce others to Jesus?

What practical steps do I need to take to incorporate this habit into my life?

Is there there anything I need to pray about, explore further or extra help I need?

Is there someone I should to share with, pray with or encourage

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