Fasting changes situations or even destinies of nations. It is also meant to change the individual or even congregations. Fasting is therefore transformational. In the book of Esther, we see the transformation that took place after the fast; she declared, "If I die, I die" and she went to intercede for her people before the King Xerxes. In the 21 day fast that is normally partaken by many, we should be asking for renewal and repackaging of ourselves because fasting is not a means to an end but rather an end in itself. The question however remains; should fasting always be about something? Was this its original intention? In Acts 13:1-3 we see the Holy Spirit setting apart Barnabas and Silas for ministry after the fasting and prayers of some members of the church of Antioch. This shows us that there will be times when believers will be expected to fast specifically for something that is communally effective as opposed to fasting for what they themselves want from God. As stated in Mathew 6:16-18 we should remember not to fast like the Pharisees for whom this was a time to show case themselves. Fasting for them only transformed their countenance but the inward change of character that comes with it failed to be theirs to possess.
Christ was categorical that fasting was a 'when' issue not an 'if' one. In the early church, fasting went hand in hand with prayer, for them, it was more than a discipline; it was a lifestyle This therefore places fasting as one of the things that are expected of us as Christians to practice in our living. Joel 2:12, gives us further insight as to its importance as the Lord asks the people to return to Him with fasting, weeping and mourning. The question we should be concerned about as Christians is whether fasting is a time of solitude and connecting with God or whether it is just a means to an end.
There are two things that we should therefore remember, firstly, that fasting is expected of all of us Christians. As we seek to excel in other parts of our walk with Christ we should fast. Secondly there are exceptional situations which we will face in life which will certainly require fasting. The disciples in Mark 9 were arguing about their inability to cast out demons and they asked Christ about this. He informed them in Mark9:29 that certain demons only come out through prayer and fasting. In order for us to experience that deeper walk with Christ, we must commit to prayer and fasting. God can work on our views about issues while we are praying and fasting. It is imperative that we forego food for as long as we are prompted. For those with medical conditions are partial fasts that may involve partaking of liquids like King David once did. (word count- 480)
May these words (sermons), from various men and women of God be a blessing to all.