Fasting is a dangerous thing, John Piper writes in Hunger for God (Free pdf from Desiring God) –
The Bible is very careful to warn us about people who “require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth” (1 Timothy 4:1–3). The apostle Paul asks with dismay, “Why . . . do you submit to regulations—’Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch’?” (Colossians 2:20–21). He is jealous for the full enjoyment of Christian liberty. Like a great declaration of freedom over every book on fasting flies the banner, “Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do” (1 Corinthians 8:8). There once were two men. One said, “I fast twice a week”; the other said, “God, be merciful to me,a sinner!” Only one went down to his house justified (Luke 18:12–14).
In the middle of the two dangers – proud self-denial trying to earn God’s favour and selfish self-indulgence is the pleasant pain of fasting, when our hunger for God exceeds our hunger for God-given food.
Old fasting tried to curry God’s favour or expressed broken-heartedness and desperation – like the fasting of John the Baptist’s disciples. The 12 Disciples didn’t need to fast while Jesus was with them as their hunger for God was being satisfied. Now fasting is for between times, between Jesus’ first coming and His return. New fasting under the new covenant requires a new wineskin! If we fast, it is not out of brokenness or emptiness, but because we have savoured the aroma of Christ and tasted his goodness and want more.
Fasting is with a purpose – often prayer. When the stomach growls, we are reminded to pray. If you are reading this before breakfast, why not join those of us that fast every Thursday!
- I’m fasting for healing breakthrough – the rest of today’s reading details some healings – a raising from the dead, the bleeding woman, two blind men, a mute man.
- I’m fasting for revival breakthrough – in v35-38 Jesus tells us the fields are white to harvest but the workers are few, pray for workers… Tomorrow we will see that the disciples are the answer to their own prayers.
Today and maybe every Thursday – why not join me fasting from food for one, two or three meals and let your rumbles be a call to prayer?