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Fasting: When?

Updated: Jan 15, 2019

1. When you need refreshing in your spiritual life. There are times when we don't feel that "first love" closeness with our Lord (Revelation 2:4). We need something to jolt our senses and bring our priorities back in place. Jesus is the living bread and he nourishes us with food that is spiritual not physical. "I have food to eat that you know nothing about," he said to his disciples, "my food is to do the will of God" (John 4:32, 34). Sometimes the only way to experience this spiritual food is through going without physical food. Jesus longs to be allowed into our lives; he waits patiently at the door of our hearts until we invite him in. Only then do we enjoy a special meal with our Savior: "He I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me" (Revelation 3:20).

2. When your heart's desire is to be seen by God, and not by men. Social media makes us overexposed to the world. We long for a little privacy at times. We don't fast to posture as super spiritual Christians. Jesus was very clear about fasting being something only you and God know about (Matthew 6:16). For Jews, fasting was an outward sign of an inward condition. So they often put on sackcloth and ashes to show they were fasting. For Christians, fasting is an inward sign of an inward condition. We deny ourselves "in secret" to share something special with God; something only He and I know about.

3. When you're in a particularly tough season. Jesus said some things require more fervent spiritual discipline than others, "this kind can come out only by prayer and fasting" (Mark 9:29). When something seems overwhelming to us, adding fasting to our prayers reminds us that we are not in control, God is. He will provide and carry us through even the toughest of times.

4. When you have important decisions to make. The apostles often fasted to discern God's will. (Acts 13:2, 14:23). Emptying yourself of something physical allows space and time to encounter something spiritual.

5. When you feel too "full." Our affluent culture offers us too much of everything: stuff, food, social media, entertainment. Fasting empties us and reminds us of what is truly important.

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