Fasting as an act of worship
Fasting is a time when you put a stop on eating food so that you can spend that time in prayer. It’s not the same as dieting therefore where the purpose is to lose weight instead of doing worship.
In other religions fasting is seen as a way to appease their gods to grant them a wish so that they make their life better. Due to this they have specific times in the year dedicated to fasting. Now even in the Christian faith we do fast at times, though we are free to fast whenever the Holy Spirit leads us. Here the emphasis on fasting is not gain favors from the Lord. Instead here we are to fast so as to concentrate on the things of the Spirit and pay little (or no) attention to things of the earth. This doesn’t mean we neglect our earthly responsibilities.
What happens in the course of eating too much? People sometimes get too engrossed in worldly things that they miss out on discipline. We are called to hear the voice of Jesus the good shepherd. At times others voices too call out to us which must be rejected if they try to lead us away from God. These are the voices of fame, fortune, pleasure, food and drink etc.
If one is too engrossed in satisfying his physical needs alone, it gives the Devil a chance to tempt him. Not that you can’t resist him even then but when you are balanced and sober you can really fight back really hard against the Evil one.
Though the below verse doesn’t relate directly to fasting, it shows us that the word of God is supersedes our physical needs.
Matthew 4:4 But Jesus answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Keep away from worldly pleasures if you are to walk closely with God. Remember the story of Esau in Genesis 25:29-34 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
Due to his over indulgence to the needs of the flesh, Esau lost out on his heritage both in the physical and supernatural. Now his behavior is an extreme case, though the lesson we are to learn from this is never to value things of the flesh no matter how legal they seem, more than the things of the Lord God.
In the same way at certain times in your life one must keep away from things that could distract you from seeking God even if they seem sincere. This could even mean keeping away from food (temporarily) so that you can worship God and hear his voice.
Now a word of caution, fasting or not fasting is not a trick to manipulate God into blessing you. Nor is fasting with foolish intentions or wicked living ever encouraged in the Bible.
1 Corinthians 8:8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.
Isaiah 58:3-7 ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
When you fast take some time to seek to the Lord in prayer. If you are working then adjust your timings or even take a leave so that you can fast and pray together. The reason for this is that you don’t gain notice of others who may praise you for fasting. Matthew 6:18 says that, That your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Worship God out of respect for him. Fast because you want to show you value the Lord over your physical need to have food. No need to go on fasting forever nor to injure yourself due to self neglect. Fasting of a day or two is fine, maybe more if your body permits. If you are on medication or have come out of surgery then do consult your doctor before going on a fast.
It’s highly advisable that during such times of fasting and prayer that you read the Bible and meditate on it. Try to find out what the Holy Spirit wants to you read in the Bible. Do it all well because its your special time with the Lord Jesus.