2 Corinthians 6:4-10
4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;
Today we will begin looking at the next “In” descriptor of verse five, fastings. One thing to note about the adverb “in” is that it describes a state of being continually surrounded by something. The “in” list we have been going through are all situations or behaviors that we should either be willing to go through, such as stripes and imprisonments, or that we should be continually practicing as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now I must confess that this last practice in verse five has almost entirely fallen out of fashion today in our gluttonous, fast food nation of over eaters that seem to indulge every whim of culinary desire that confronts them. I am not exempt from this scathing criticism, and I must admit at the first that I do not, and have not made fasting a continual part of my Christian walk as much as I should. In order for us to get a better sense of with what regularity we should employ such seemingly extreme measures lets turn to our source for all wisdom on such matters, the Holy Scriptures.
2 Corinthians 11:27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
According to the Apostle Paul, his frequency of practicing fasting was...often. Uh, oh...this is getting worse and worse! By worse of course I mean in regard to the clarity with which our own observance of this vitally important Christian practice is seen as failing and falling short. Indeed, often, can be a somewhat ambiguous term, yet it does seem to rebuke any supposedly Godly life that has been left void of such beneficial observances. Further, our life should be far from void or empty of fasting, but should in contrast be marked by a continual surrounding ourselves in the spirit and letter of this ancient sign of worship to Almighty God.
One of the first examples of fasting seen in the Bible is when Moses fasted on Mount Sinai before receiving the ten commandments.
Deuteronomy 9:9 When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the Lord made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water:
This fast is remarkable in that Moses did not eat or drink water for forty days and nights. This is obviously a supernatural fast and should not be attempted by anyone, as it is widely understood that a person cannot survive without water for more than three days. This miracle fast was immediately followed by a second.
Deuteronomy 9:18 And I fell down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread, nor drink water, because of all your sins which ye sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.
19 For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure, wherewith the Lord was wroth against you to destroy you. But the Lord hearkened unto me at that time also.
This is where Moses fasts a second time when, after seeing the children of Israel worshiping the golden calf at the base of the mount he proceeds to break the two tablets of the commandments. This is a foreshadow of when Jesus Christ would fast for forty days and nights in the wilderness and be tempted by the devil. Here we are given some interesting information on one of the purposes of fasting. Moses fasts because of the sins of his people, and afflicts his own body through the denial of food and water in order to intercede for his people and quell the wrath of God against them, and it works. Now this is only one reason for fasting and most assuredly there are many others, but I think we can begin to see the importance of fasting and the great power it has to show God our love and sincerity of desire for the salvation of others, and to plead for mercy and forgiveness.
Some ways we could apply this to our own lives is to fast for a loved one that is not saved, to fast for our family, church, or country in order to receive mercy and forgiveness from God. Of course, fasting should be accompanied by works of repentance, by a sharing of the gospel or whatever it is you are requesting divine assistance for. Fasting is not a magic spell that causes God to something. It is an intimate way for us to draw nigh to him and to enter into a posture of worship before him in order to gain his favor in a situation or person’s life.
There is so much more to be learned about fasting from the scriptures and I encourage you to do your own study on the subject, but more importantly to begin to incorporate fasting as a powerful tool in our walk of faith.