Give Me That Mountain

Fasting Is Not about Persuading God

Faith and Unbelief. Day sixty-seven...

As I learned the hard way, fasting is not about going without water in the middle of the summer. Fasting is not about a lot of things we assign to it.

Before I became a Christian, when I thought about fasting I thought of gaunt men and women who had gone on some kind of a hunger strike for some kind of a cause. But fasting, from a Biblical perspective, is not about raising the awareness of a specific issue.

hunger strike

After I became a Christian, when I thought about fasting I thought of men and women who deprived themselves of food and water to persuade God to move on their behalf. But fasting, from a Biblical perspective, is not about persuading God to do anything.

Now, if I had done a few forty‐day fasts in my lifetime such a comment would carry more authority. But I never made it to a forty-day water-only fast before realizing that I no longer had the need for this kind of fast under the new covenant relationship I had with the Lord.

If we are willing to eliminate fasting as a way of trying to persuade God to do something then we must rethink the purpose of fasting.

I personally know a few people who have done various forty‐day fasts—from water‐only to juice‐only fasts. And I have the highest respect for these friends. Whatever their motivation, I am certain that God was pleased with their efforts. But I am also certain that their efforts didn't move God to do anything He wasn't going to do anyway.

The fast, under the new covenant, is not about persuading God.

First of all, why would we want to persuade God to do something that He didn't going to do anyway? Oh, I can think of a lot of things that I would like for God to do. But I'm certainly not going to try to persuade Him to do them. To me, that is just foolish.

By now I know better than to want what I want—there's no profit in wanting what I want. I'm trying to get to the point where I want only what God wants—where His desires become my desires.

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalms 37:4)

Will you consider the possibility that fasting is not about persuading God to do anything?

I believe we negate the grace of God when we drag an old‐covenant concept of the fast into the new covenant. Let me illustrate:

The longest “so‐called” fast that I ever did was for forty days, eating only vegetables and grains. But I consider that fast as sort of toothless, because vegetarians eat this way every day. What did I get out of that fast? I don't remember getting anything out of it other than an increased appreciation of meat.

I've done a few water‐only fasts for a few days at a time. And I went through a long period of doing a 24‐hour water‐only fast one day a week. What did I get out of those fasts? I don't remember getting anything other than irritability with a hint of self‐righteousness.

And then I began to realize that God extended His grace to me regardless of my efforts to try to persuade Him with my performance.

In fact, some of His greatest acts of grace toward me were at the times when I couldn't perform at all—fasting or otherwise.

For me, fasting was an effort to manipulate God—as if I knew what I needed more than He knew what I needed. If I could just perform for Him in a way that would please Him then maybe, just maybe, He would do what I asked of Him.

There is only one problem with this approach:

For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. (Luke 12:30 NKJV)

God already knows what I need—before I ever ask Him.

Do I really believe that I must go through all kinds of gymnastics to get Him to perform His Word? If so, the person who can't physically endure a forty‐day fast would be at a disadvantage to the person who can.

If you've ever done a fast, please take some time this weekend to consider your motivation.

Have a good day,
Mike

Image credit: Montecruz Foto

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