And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes…Daniel 9:3
Fasting is a practice of believers mentioned throughout the Bible, typically coupled with intense, focused prayer.
Mark 9:29 And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, except by prayer and fasting.
Acts 14:23 And when they had ordained themselves elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.
1 Corinthians 7:5 Do not deprive one another, except it be with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan not tempt you for your lack of self control.
Fasting is also related to a humbling of oneself before God. In many English versions, this is typically translated as affliction or humbling; to “afflict one’s soul” was an act of humility before Yahweh. This was specifically listed as a commanded practice on the Day of Atonement each year, a day of seeking God and petitioning him for forgiveness.
And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger who sojourns among you: … It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and you shall afflict your souls by a statute forever.Leviticus 16:29, 31
In the wilderness, the Israelites were forced to fast as a way of understanding that God would also supply their needs through the manna.
And you shall remember all the ways which the LORD your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, and to prove you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you, and suffered you to hunger, and fed you with manna, which you did not know, neither did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD does man live.Deuteronomy 8:2-3
They were set apart in the wilderness, a people called to a unique way of life that was to exemplify the kingdom of God on the earth.
In teaching of the fulfillment of this kingdom, Yeshua continues this idea of being set apart through fasting. He encourages this practice with believers but cautions then not to make a show of it with others, otherwise their “humbling” would become a form of hypocrisy.
Moreover when you fast, do not be as the hypocrites, of a sad appearance; for they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face, that you do not appear unto men to fast, but unto your Father which is in secret: and your Father, who sees in secret, shall reward you openly.Matthew 6:16-18
Yeshua specifies that true fasting is “unto your Father,” as a means of private intimacy in communication with him. Fasting is a spiritual practice that, done for the right reasons and in the correct, dignified manner, will provide a deep level of personal connection with him. This practice provides us an opportunity to continually set ourselves apart in seeking God’s purpose within his kingdom.
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