Saturday, February 20, 2010

40 Days of Obedience

Day # 4 February 20th – Fasting

Matthew 4:1-4 speaks about Jesus’ time in the desert fasting and praying to God. Jesus fasts for 40 days and resists the temptations of Satan and begins his most important ministry. Matthew 6:16-18 gives immediately following he begins his ministry by calling his disciples. We see fasting as a time of weakness, but for Jesus this was a time of strength. It is after these 40 days of fasting and being with God that Jesus guidelines to how one should fast, and Luke 5:34-35 reveals when fasting will be appropriate for Jesus’ disciples. Fasting is a spiritual discipline that postpones our daily gratification to hear the voice of God. Fasting is a great exercise when praying for something specific, trying to discern the voice of God, or just to be in God’s presence. Fasting was around before Jesus, and his disciples and followers continue the practice today. Fasting makes us hungry, tired, and yes even causes headaches, but it is in these moments where we understand our need for God’s hand. When we delay our own gratification or needs we experience God in ways that we miss out in our everyday life. It is not an easy exercise, which is why it is called a discipline, but you will be surprised how much God will help you through it, and how loud God seems to speak in these times of fasting.

The truth is that we cannot fast from food and drink for 40 days without some serious consequences; in fact many of us cannot fast one day without serious consequences due to diabetes, a specialized diet or other concerns. Before fasting it is always important to know your body, or check with your doctor. Fasting is supposed to bring us closer to God, not bring us to God in heaven (wink). Fasting can be done in many ways. If you are new to fasting I suggest that you do not go any longer than a 24 hour period. A good way to do it is eat dinner, then begin your fast, skipping breakfast, lunch, and all those snacks in between, then break your fast with thanksgiving and dinner. Fasting is typically from calorie substances; therefore, water is ok to drink. If you cannot fast from everything, try sticking to just juice. If your body cannot allow you to fast safely for a day, maybe you can try for a meal. If fasting even for a meal is too dangerous, try fasting from something else such as soda, coffee, or tea for a few days. Most importantly remember why you are fasting, you do it not to put your body in jeopardy, you do not do it to lose weight, put you do it to rely on and draw near to God. Find time and the discipline to fast and draw near to God.

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