Fasting is the willingness of someone to abstinence or decrease of some or all food, drink, or both, for a period. Mostly, when we hear the word “fasting”, it means that someone is on a diet. Someone wants to lose weight. Some people do fast because of obesity, to save their health. There are lots of reasons.
I noticed when I was in the Middle East; people do fast not because of wanting to lose weight or something to do about physical health. But because of a religious obligation. It’s an oblation. Islam teaches its Muslim community to fast during Ramzan. I was deeply fascinated by their dedication and adherence to Ramzan.
To give you a little background, Ramzan or commonly known as Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is the month of fasting, and it’s the holiest period for the Islamic faith. During this month of fasting, Muslims do not eat between the rising and setting of the sun. They perform prayers aside from the five times a day prayer required of the faith. Also, Muslims celebrate the fact that it was in this glorious month that God Almighty first unveiled the words of the Quran to Prophet Mohammed (pbuh). Thus, they see to it that they recite, read, and understand the Quran during Ramzan while on fast.
The religious practice has inspired me, and at the same time, has raised curiosity. I grew up in Christian faith, and fasting is not clear nor being practice. At most, I know when someone is fasting, he is on a diet. As a believer, this whole setup has brought many questions like:
- Did the Bible mention about fasting?
- Am I required to do fasting?
- How come fasting is not introduced to us, like in Islam?
- What’s the importance of fasting?
- Can I even fast?
I was concerned, and at the same time, I felt that ‘believing and accepting’ Jesus Christ (PBUH) as my Savior is not enough. I felt that I must do more. I felt the need of pleasing our God Almighty. I felt I am no good at all. I felt I am behind. Can you imagine our brothers and sisters in Islam? They do not eat from sunrise to sunset. They do not drink either. They abstain from lustful desires like sex. They abstain from any worldly affairs but strives to perform turns that would please our Almighty God.
I am embarrassed. I did not even try doing such! But I’m claiming that I am a believer. What’s your Ash Wednesday oblation? What’re your Holy Week practices? Visit 7-12 churches and eat festively afterwards? Do service mass and eat festively with family or friends afterwards? Drink liquor? Where is the sacrifice for our Lord God Almighty? Do you even read the scriptures during Lenten season?
Fasting is Worth Your Attention
What does the Bible tell about Fasting?
Matthew 4:2 tells us that Jesus (PBUH) has fasted for forty days and forty nights. It is after he was baptized through the Holy Spirit. During his fasting period, he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. This event was also confirmed at Luke 4:2. If Jesus fasted, then why I am not?
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). If the early followers of Jesus Christ (PBUH) have fasted, then why I am not?
Moses (PBUH) was there with the Lord 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’s clearly illustrated that ever since fasting is part of our obligation. Then why I am not?
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 just a few of the many Bible passages about the importance of fasting and prayers. But why we are not doing this? Let’s look at these.
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 all these, most of us do not fast. We think that there’s no significance. We think that ‘Life is too short’ for such a struggle. It has opened my eyes and heart. I want to fulfil my obligation and fully perform my duty as a believer.
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 greater spiritual goal. If you fast, you deny your flesh gaining lustful desires but allowing your spiritual aspect to be in a better state. Through fasting, you can concentrate on nurturing your relationship to our God Almighty.
As part of my spiritual growth, I am doing a baby step. Part of my Christmas celebration last year, I thank GOD Almighty that He has guided me in completing my fasting period. However, it was only during Fridays-Saturdays (6 AM to 6 PM). During this time, I have managed to read scriptures, watched and listened to religious lectures that will help me contemplate and increase my soul’s health. It is just a beginning. This year, we have several opportunities to perform such discipline. Grab these opportunities and practice fasting. It will enrich your relationship to our Supreme Creator.
Yes! I am inviting you to consider and to do fasting as part of your spiritual growth. After I completed my fasting in December 2019, I felt reassured. My heart grew, and revitalized. The urge of seeking more about wisdom and faith fired up. I felt courage. I felt love. I felt contentment. I felt peace. I felt its need and the need to share this to you.