Do you fast? Then feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, visit the sick, do not forget the imprisoned, have pity on the tortured, comfort those who grieve and who weep, be merciful, humble, kind, calm, patient, sympathetic, forgiving, reverent, truthful and pious, so that God might accept your fasting and might plentifully grant you the fruits of repentance (St John Chrysostom)
A secret is like money, it can be used wisely or misused wickedly. There are secrets which (ironically) should not be kept as secrets while there are secrets which can and must be kept secret. The people of God need to know how to discern between both such types of secrets. This will be covered in detail in series of ‘Keeping Secrets’ posts which I’m writing up. However for now I share a few good reasons for keeping secrets. This basically comes from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 6. So here we go:
1) Keep secret your good deeds of charity so that you don’t seek pride nor fame in your acts which causes you to lose your reward from the Lord God.
“Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 “Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-4)
2) Keep secret your prayer life in a such a way that you pray like how the Lord God wants you to pray without being a self seeking hypocrite but rather exalt the name of God alone. This will ensure your reward from the Lord God.
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
7 “And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:
Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread;
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we also have forgiven our debtors;
13 And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:5-14)
3) Keep secret your fasting so that you don’t get undue praise by people and so miss out on your reward from your Heavenly Father the Lord God.
16 “And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
The three reasons above are good enough to consider keeping secrets that are meant not to be paraded before people so that you indulge in self glory and so lose your reward from your Father in heaven who is none but the Lord God. I hope this make you realize the importance of keeping secrets. Keep yourself open to the will and counsel of the Lord God manifest in the Bible so that you learn to keep secrets wisely.
Christ be with you!
When you are fasting unto the Lord Jesus you might be doing it to spend with him. You might want to get closer to him. Sometimes fasting is just so that you want to be undisturbed by the needs of the flesh so that you can concentrate on the Living God our Father. There’s always a good reason to fast. The Holy Spirit may lead you to fast and pray or sometimes require you to only pray without fasting. Listen to him and discern.
Never fast out of legalism or trying to earn salvation or forgiveness of sins for it won’t actually save you. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can save you from your sins. Fasting therefore must be done without guile and hypocrisy.
In Isaiah chapter 58, the Lord God condemns unworthy fasting but also sets the precedent on what fasting is considered pure. Lets read the following:
58 “Cry aloud; do not hold back;
lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet they seek me daily
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they delight to draw near to God.
3 ‘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.
4 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.
5 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?
6 “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?
7 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?
8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
11 And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.
12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.
Jesus himself did not do away with fasting. In fact he set the standard for all of us who believe in him in Matthew 6:16-18
16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 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.
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.