The word of God tells us... Matt. 17:21... "Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." In which way should we fast, and for what, or how long..? What is the true reason behind our fast..?
Fasting should never be done as a way to gain 'favor' from God, it is to be done as a matter of gaining closeness with Him at given times in your life, be that in time of great need, be that for healing our hearts and bodies, or only in humbling one self to see a greater understanding of God's will.
There are many forms of fasting, from going without certain things in ones life, for a time, to giving fully of one's livelihood for the betterment of others. Most think of fasting as giving up foods completely, in a way, sacrificing oneself in order to gain guidance from the Lord in matters. Or as with Daniel, giving up the greater things in life for a time, to show one is worthy of blessing. Or as Christ on the mountain, in giving up all things that HE would become humbled in His weakness, becoming a greater servant to His Father's will.
At times we all seek a greater understanding of the Lord's will, and feel we need a great tool in which to seek that guidance. We place ourselves in a state of need by 'Prayer and Fasting'. But it is the manor of our fasting, or to what purpose we are fasting, that needs looked at closely. Do we seek God's will in our lives...? Then give of one's time, and place yourself in prayer while reading scripture, His will has not changed.
Yes, there are times when we seek a "word" from God on given things happening in our lives; times of great need, be it guidance, finance, or healing to ourselves or loved ones. At these times, when we fast, we should keep it as to seeking that closer walk with HIM, that as we are made humble before Him, He may find us worthy of the closeness we seek. In that closeness we may see clear to know His will, and be blessed by it, but only by humbling ourselves, which is the true purpose of a fast.
Throughout the scripture, the Lord calls for man to 'Fast' at curtain times, but only in a way that it would Humble them and draw them closer to HIM, such as the given feast in the year. It was set that man would come together at these times, fasting, then feasting on the Lord's blessings, all to be done in remembering the things HE has brought them through. These fasts were meant only for a day, or a set time, and that to remind man of his wants, making him humble before the Lord.
There were times when a greater fast was called for, in seeking God's blessings or judgment, or His turning from a judgment given. As with the priest, in preparing themselves before taking up the offerings for sacrifice. Preparing them to be the vessel, or intermediary, between man and God, this was to be done that the Priest would be made worthy before the Lord.
When man was shown the wrong he had done to the Lord or to men, and was called to fast, 'in sack cloth and ashes', that the Lord would turn favorably towards him. Yes, there are times when such is needed in seeking the Lord's favor, but rarely done, and then only on a grander scale... That all people should be in prayer and fasting, that God would turn from the judgment HE has given, such as the people of Nineveh, in the book of Jonah.
Even then it is set to humble man in God's presence, removing the things in one's life that separate them from the Lord, "putting aside their Idols..." things of this world that come between us and God. In that, it is not turning God's judgment, but placing ourselves in subjection to HIS will, and seeking HIM once more with a humbled heart.
In Daniel's fasting (Daniel Ch.1 ), he gave up the king bounty for a lesser food, one which gives greater sustinance. Many confuse this with giving up meat, not so. The delicacies of the king in the time, and even today in some places, were overlarge bugs. In this Daniel and his friends gave up the bounty of the king for the blessings of a greater KING, and received HIS blessings for it. They, in fact, abstained from the worldly and sought to remain in the greater blessings of the Lord. Again, in humbling themselves before man and God, they received the greater blessing.
Personal sacrifice is not a thing that God would will for us to undertake, giving of ourselves to the point of being in need ourselves is not of God, but of self, and only causes to bring more suffering upon us needlessly. The difference in giving of oneself freely and sacrificing ones good, is a very thin line at times.
The sacrifice of the Lord was such that none could surpass, we may claim a desire to give of ourselves for another, but it cannot be done. We can pray for them, even give of our time for them, but to lay down our life...? This we can not do, that is why Christ came in our place, the sacrifice was too great for man, and God would not have even the least of us try such, even for the best reasons.
Fasting should always be done in a prayerful attitude, and that only to seek a CLOSER understanding of God's will, not to gain His favor, or to gain a 'word' from Him on a given course of action. A holy fast unto the Lord is not a thing of sacrificing one self but giving freely, setting our SELF aside for that closer walk in God's will, and there by gaining the blessing the Lord has for us.
To this the word of the Lord applies, "I desire mercy and not sacrifice." (Hosea 6:6) If one wishes to give up their food, let them also give up drinking, their smoking, their daily gossiping with friends, let them turn from the ways of this world, seeking after the name they make for themself in being a Christian, let them give up their living in the sinful nature...
Making themselves humble before the Lord, this is the true fast, one acceptable before the Lord. Giving of oneself, in the time you spend with friends having fun, give it in keeping the Lord's will. Giving of oneself in this way is a blessing not only to you, but a blessing to the Lord, for it shows your willingness to serve, and your worthiness to be blessed in a greater way, to His Glory.
I say not that we should all go out and speak only scripture, preaching to all we see. Yes, in our daily live we should be willing to give of ourselves to any and all that are in need, or to those seeking His will and guidance. In sacrificing our time for the Lord's will, we give of Self to the betterment of HIS glory.
In humbling ourselves before man and God, we show our willingness to follow in His path. This is that acceptable fast, the giving of oneself, our daily needs set aside, in humbling ourselves to seek a greater place in the shadow of the Almighty.
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