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Fasting - Why?

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Fasting - Why?

Post by Sunshine on 13th October 2013, 9:36 pm

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word, "fasting"?  Food is what comes to my mind.  In the Bible, we often see examples of people throughout the Old and New Testaments fasting from food.  So, why fast?  Why fast from food?  What benefits are there from fasting?  Does it increase our chances of getting an answer from God?

In this topic, I thought I'd share a few of the passages that were discussed last week at my youth group meeting, as well as some questions and answers that were said.  Please don't just read over the study.  Grab your Bible, and really look into it.  I'll be using English Standard Version here.  I also want to know your thoughts on this.  =)

Fasting:
First, where in the Bible does it talk about fasting?  Is there anyone who you think maybe fasted in the Bible?  Stop to think about it a moment, before reading on.


Some people we thought of: David, Esther, Jehoshaphat, and Jesus


Look up the following, and consider each question/thought individually.

Psalm 109:24

Context: v. 21-25


Your knees do not become weak after fasting for just a day or two.  Obviously he’s been fasting for a while.  Maybe a week or two (at least)?


Something’s bothering David, which causes him to fast.  What?  Consider verses 22 and 55.


Looking at the entire chapter for context, you see that he is running from someone.  Perhaps he is hiding from Saul?

(We didn’t look to see when exactly this Psalm was written.)


Because he is desperately trying to save his own life, why has he given up food as he cries out to God?  What is the significance of it?  Does he think that God will answer him through fasting?


Discuss any other thoughts.



Let’s look up another passage: (again, consider each question/comment carefully)

Psalm 35:13

Context: v. 11-14


David is saying that these people pay him evil for good.  He says, that when they were sick, he acted as though a close family member or friend were so.  

But why would he afflict himself with fasting?  Again, what is the significance of it?


Specifically in the Old Testament, you were required to physically prepare and offer sacrifices to God for your sins.  Everything was done/paid for physically.  Perhaps by fasting, and giving up his food, David meant it to be as an offering, or sacrifice?  

Maybe as a symbol, as in, “This matter is so important, I’m giving up my source of life because of this.”


Here’s another Psalm:

Psalm 69:10

Context: v. 9-12


ESV says in verse 10, “When I wept and humbled my soul…”

“Humbled” is not in the Hebrew translation - ESV added it.  However, admitting you need help to the point of fasting, is humbling in itself.  Also, it was probably humbling for David to be seen crying out in the streets.

There’s also the possibility that it was one of those Hebrew words, with which English does not have an accurate word (one of those words where it has no synonym, but rather it’s own unique meaning).


It says that David became the person that those who sat at the gate talked about.  It also says that the drunkards began making song about him.


Looking at the context in the entire chapter, verse 5 implies that maybe this was caused by something David did as a sin.  So is his fasting as solely an offering/sacrifice and/or symbol?  Perhaps it’s something more.


David humbled himself.  Maybe this shows the motives of his heart.


Did he fast, trying to get God to answer him?  Does fasting increase the “chance” of God listening to our prayers?  In Matthew 7 we read that God loves to answer our prayers.


So, if fasting does not affect the kind of answer we receive from God, what’s the point?


As it was said above, it has to do with the issues of the heart?  Where is our heart?  Perhaps we do it as a sacrifice or offering.  Perhaps as a symbol.


We may also choose to fast from something to which we have become attached or addicted.


So all in all, we could conclude that fasting is mainly for our benefit.


Why fast from food specifically?  Someone pointed out that fasting from food keeps you focused:


Stomach growls

“I’m hungry… why is it I can’t have a small snack?”

“Oh yeah, I’m praying for such and such.”

“Dear God…”

Two minutes later…

“...Amen.”

“Hmm… I’m really hungry.  Maybe I’ll have a snack.”

“Oh wait, I’m not eating because I’m praying for such and such.”

“Dear God…”


Do you catch the drift?  Wink


Let’s consider last of all, the ultimate example of Jesus Christ, as well as how he directly addressed it.


Matthew 4:1-4


How blunt verse two is: after fasting for forty days and nights, “he was hungry.”


Then the devil comes, and tempts him with… food.  Ouch.


Yet Jesus answers amid his desperate hunger of the flesh, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”


Discuss other thoughts from this passage.


---


Matthew 6:16-18


So Jesus directly commands: don’t fast for show, acting gloomy because you can’t eat, but do it in secret.


Above it was concluded that fasting is mainly about the heart issue, therefore, make sure it’s only between you and God.




~Also consider for your personal life, what you would consider fasting from, in order to spend more time with God.




~What are some basic reasons you might fast while praying (need clear direction for after high school or college, my cats aren't eating [someone else threw out that one Wink], etc.)


Other passages to look up:

-Ezra 8:21-23

-Esther 4:15-17; 5:2

-Acts 13:1-3 (Consider how casually they talk about fasting, as if it’s a regular habit)

-Daniel 9 (Daniel intercedes for his people’s vast sins, even though Daniel himself was always right before God


---


Keywords from study: offering, sacrifice; symbol

Key phrases: mainly for our benefit; it’s about the heart issue; don’t do it for show;


I hope this study challenges you, as it did me!


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Re: Fasting - Why?

Post by Metal15 on 14th October 2013, 9:58 am

My understanding concerning fasting is that you fast to spend time praying and spending time with God in the time that you would normally spend eating.


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Re: Fasting - Why?

Post by Thor's Hammer on 14th October 2013, 3:20 pm

Fasting is more building up your concentration to God. Like a muscle the beginning is hard but it gets easier as you go along. I think...



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