The Cry of My Heart
Week 2: “Fasting the Forgotten Discipline”
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven; 5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full; 16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. - Matthew 6:1, 5, 16-18
I. Fasting Defined
1. Fasting is more than mere self-denial or abstinence, although it does involve both.
2. Fasting is abstinence from anything that hinders our communion with God.
Food fast – abstaining from all food. Illustrated by Christ’s fast following His baptism (Luke 4:2).
Absolute fast – abstaining from drinking as well as eating. Ezra’s fast as he mourned over the faithlessness of the people of God in Exile (Ezra 10:6).
Sexual Fast – Involves the mutual consent of marriage partners to abstain from intimate relationships. (Paul’s exhortation in I Cor. 7:3-6)
II. Four Principles of Fasting and Prayer
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. - Psalms 139:23
Appetites – Fasting brings our physical appetites under the Holy Spirit’s control.
For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Paul was warning about those who have allowed certain appetites for division within the church. - Romans 16:18
“The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge. . .” - Proverbs 18:15
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. - Matthew 6:33
LIVE IT OUT
1. Fasting will have no results without a Personal Relationship with Christ.
2. What is God saying to you today about Fasting?
3. Will you commit to praying and fasting for the Glory of God?