“For every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:14)
Most of the records surrounding fasting in the scriptures were at times of sadness, sorrow, and affliction. Its proper goal has always been to chasten and humble the soul and assist one in becoming closer to God to achieve a specific request or favor from God. The Bible made it known to us about David the Psalmist in Psalms:35:13 “But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.” Also in Psalms 69:10 “When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach.”
The Mosaic Law did not mention fasting, and we can deduce from Scripture that all fasting was voluntary, as the individual felt called by God to observe or practice it. Nonetheless, many men of God have fasted when troubled. As a result, we can see that fasting is especially appropriate for days of sadness, affliction, or when our spiritual welfare is fallen apart.
An account in the Bible made it known that Israelites were defeated by the men of a small city called Ai. Joshua rent his clothing and, with the elders of Israel, stayed prostrate before the Ark of the Lord from morning to evening without eating, realizing that God was angry with them and had allowed the little army to rout the larger force of the Israelites.
The continuous fasting of the heathen depicts that man’s natural heart knows this method of approaching God. Terrified by Jonah’s sermon, the king of Nineveh declared a fast, wore sackcloth, and sat in ashes. He made it known throughout the city that no man, beast, herd, or flock should eat anything. A pronouncement was made in Jonah3:5-9 “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?”
The Lord had a change of mind and spared the great city of Nineveh and all her people because the quick action of the king, pronouncing a fast and prayer to the people. Matthew 3:7-12 “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our Father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” They prayed honestly. They did not fast to be seen by men but rather wanted to be seen by God and receive His favour. The Bible made it known to us in Ezekiel 33:11 “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways”
A father brought his son to Jesus’ disciples for healing during Jesus’ earthly ministry. Unfortunately, despite their sincere prayers, the disciples were unable to heal him. But when the boy was brought to Jesus, the demon was thrown out and the boy was delivered. The disciples then inquired of Jesus as to why they were unable to cast the devil out of the lad. It was because of their unbelief, Jesus replied, but He also added in Matthew 17:21 “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” This also proves to us the value of Fasting when it is done properly and in an attitude that is so pleasing to God.
To be continued…..