The Spiritual Discipline of Fasting

  • September 06, 2016
Tuesday 06

Acts 13:1-3

Fasting has two important components. One is abstention, which eliminates distractions. The other is undivided attention on God, which allows connection with Him on a deeper level.

Daniel was living under captivity in Babylon when he read God’s promise to free the Israelites after a certain period of time. He earnestly sought the Lord by means of prayer and fasting (Dan. 9:2-3). Then through the angel Gabriel, God gave the young man greater understanding of what He had previously pledged.

Scripture contains other examples as well. When King Jehoshaphat learned that a powerful army was on the offensive, he called for all of Judah to come together and fast (2 Chron. 20:1-4). God gave encouragement and strength for the future. Fasting was also part of the early church’s preparation for choosing its first missionaries, during which the Holy Spirit directed that Barnabas and Saul be commissioned for the work (Acts 13:2).

Fasting does not bring us a quicker answer from God or persuade Him to follow our plan. Instead, it prepares us to see our situation through His eyes and to act on what we learn. At times I have sought the Lord to get His assessment of how I am doing. This discipline has helped me gain His perspective on my life and work.

Fasting involves a strong desire to hear from God, a period of time to connect with Him, and a willingness to abstain from food or some activity. If the idea intimidates you, remember its purpose is preparation so we might draw closer to God and receive His encouragement and direction.

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 32-33

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1 Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

2 While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."

3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.

3 So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.

1 Now it came about after this that the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon, together with some of the Meunites, came to make war against Jehoshaphat.

2 Then some came and reported to Jehoshaphat, saying, A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, out of Aram and behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar (that is Engedi)."

3 Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.

4 So Judah gathered together to seek help from the LORD; they even came from all the cities of Judah to seek the LORD.

2 While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."

1 In the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, on the first of the month, the word of the LORD came to me saying,

2 Son of man, take up a lamentation over Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him, `You compared yourself to a young lion of the nations, Yet you are like the monster in the seas; And you burst forth in your rivers And muddied the waters with your feet And fouled their rivers.'"

3 Thus says the Lord GOD, Now I will spread My net over you With a company of many peoples, And they shall lift you up in My net.

4 I will leave you on the land; I will cast you on the open field. And I will cause all the birds of the heavens to dwell on you, And I will satisfy the beasts of the whole earth with you.

5 I will lay your flesh on the mountains And fill the valleys with your refuse.

6 I will also make the land drink the discharge of your blood As far as the mountains, And the ravines will be full of you.

7 And when I extinguish you, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud And the moon will not give its light.

8 All the shining lights in the heavens I will darken over you And will set darkness on your land," Declares the Lord GOD.

9 I will also trouble the hearts of many peoples when I bring your destruction among the nations, into lands which you have not known.

10 I will make many peoples appalled at you, and their kings will be horribly afraid of you when I brandish My sword before them; and they will tremble every moment, every man for his own life, on the day of your fall."

11 For thus says the Lord GOD, The sword of the king of Babylon will come upon you.

12 By the swords of the mighty ones I will cause your hordes to fall; all of them are tyrants of the nations, And they will devastate the pride of Egypt, And all its hordes will be destroyed.

13 I will also destroy all its cattle from beside many waters; And the foot of man will not muddy them anymore And the hoofs of beasts will not muddy them.

14 Then I will make their waters settle And will cause their rivers to run like oil," Declares the Lord GOD.

15 When I make the land of Egypt a desolation, And the land is destitute of that which filled it, When I smite all those who live in it, Then they shall know that I am the LORD.

16 This is a lamentation and they shall chant it. The daughters of the nations shall chant it. Over Egypt and over all her hordes they shall chant it," declares the Lord GOD.

17 In the twelfth year, on the fifteenth of the month, the word of the LORD came to me saying,

18 Son of man, wail for the hordes of Egypt and bring it down, her and the daughters of the powerful nations, to the nether world, with those who go down to the pit;

19 Whom do you surpass in beauty? Go down and make your bed with the uncircumcised.'

20 They shall fall in the midst of those who are slain by the sword. She is given over to the sword; they have drawn her and all her hordes away.

21 The strong among the mighty ones shall speak of him and his helpers from the midst of Sheol, `They have gone down, they lie still, the uncircumcised, slain by the sword.'

22 Assyria is there and all her company; her graves are round about her. All of them are slain, fallen by the sword,

23 whose graves are set in the remotest parts of the pit and her company is round about her grave. All of them are slain, fallen by the sword, who spread terror in the land of the living.

24 Elam is there and all her hordes around her grave; all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who went down uncircumcised to the lower parts of the earth, who instilled their terror in the land of the living and bore their disgrace with those who went down to the pit.

25 They have made a bed for her among the slain with all her hordes. Her graves are around it, they are all uncircumcised, slain by the sword (although their terror was instilled in the land of the living), and they bore their disgrace with those who go down to the pit; they were put in the midst of the slain.

26 Meshech, Tubal and all their hordes are there; their graves surround them. All of them were slain by the sword uncircumcised, though they instilled their terror in the land of the living.

27 Nor do they lie beside the fallen heroes of the uncircumcised, who went down to Sheol with their weapons of war and whose swords were laid under their heads; but the punishment for their iniquity rested on their bones, though the terror of these heroes was once in the land of the living.

28 But in the midst of the uncircumcised you will be broken and lie with those slain by the sword.

29 There also is Edom, its kings and all its princes, who for all their might are laid with those slain by the sword; they will lie with the uncircumcised and with those who go down to the pit.

30 There also are the chiefs of the north, all of them, and all the Sidonians, who in spite of the terror resulting from their might, in shame went down with the slain. So they lay down uncircumcised with those slain by the sword and bore their disgrace with those who go down to the pit.

31 These Pharaoh will see, and he will be comforted for all his hordes slain by the sword, even Pharaoh and all his army," declares the Lord GOD.

32 Though I instilled a terror of him in the land of the living, yet he will be made to lie down among the uncircumcised along with those slain by the sword, even Pharaoh and all his hordes," declares the Lord GOD.

1 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

2 Son of man, speak to the sons of your people and say to them, `If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman,

3 and he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows on the trumpet and warns the people,

4 then he who hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head.

5 He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life.

6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman's hand.'

7 Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me.

8 When I say to the wicked, `O wicked man, you will surely die,' and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand.

9 But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life.

10 Now as for you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, `Thus you have spoken, saying, Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we are rotting away in them; how then can we survive?"'

11 Say to them, `As I live!' declares the Lord GOD, `I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?'

12 And you, son of man, say to your fellow citizens, `The righteousness of a righteous man will not deliver him in the day of his transgression, and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he will not stumble because of it in the day when he turns from his wickedness; whereas a righteous man will not be able to live by his righteousness on the day when he commits sin.'

13 When I say to the righteous he will surely live, and he so trusts in his righteousness that he commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered; but in that same iniquity of his which he has committed he will die.

14 But when I say to the wicked, `You will surely die,' and he turns from his sin and practices justice and righteousness,

15 if a wicked man restores a pledge, pays back what he has taken by robbery, walks by the statutes which ensure life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die.

16 None of his sins that he has committed will be remembered against him. He has practiced justice and righteousness; he shall surely live.

17 Yet your fellow citizens say, `The way of the Lord is not right,' when it is their own way that is not right.

18 When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, then he shall die in it.

19 But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and practices justice and righteousness, he will live by them.

20 Yet you say, `The way of the Lord is not right.' O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways."

21 Now in the twelfth year of our exile, on the fifth of the tenth month, the refugees from Jerusalem came to me, saying, The city has been taken."

22 Now the hand of the LORD had been upon me in the evening, before the refugees came. And He opened my mouth at the time they came to me in the morning; so my mouth was opened and I was no longer speechless.

23 Then the word of the LORD came to me saying,

24 Son of man, they who live in these waste places in the land of Israel are saying, `Abraham was only one, yet he possessed the land; so to us who are many the land has been given as a possession.'

25 Therefore say to them, `Thus says the Lord GOD, You eat meat with the blood in it, lift up your eyes to your idols as you shed blood. Should you then possess the land?

26 You rely on your sword, you commit abominations and each of you defiles his neighbor's wife. Should you then possess the land?"'

27 Thus you shall say to them, `Thus says the Lord GOD, As I live, surely those who are in the waste places will fall by the sword, and whoever is in the open field I will give to the beasts to be devoured, and those who are in the strongholds and in the caves will die of pestilence.

28 I will make the land a desolation and a waste, and the pride of her power will cease; and the mountains of Israel will be desolate so that no one will pass through.

29 Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I make the land a desolation and a waste because of all their abominations which they have committed."'

30 But as for you, son of man, your fellow citizens who talk about you by the walls and in the doorways of the houses, speak to one another, each to his brother, saying, `Come now and hear what the message is which comes forth from the LORD.'

31 They come to you as people come, and sit before you as My people and hear your words, but they do not do them, for they do the lustful desires expressed by their mouth, and their heart goes after their gain.

32 Behold, you are to them like a sensual song by one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument; for they hear your words but they do not practice them.

33 So when it comes to pass--as surely it will--then they will know that a prophet has been in their midst."

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Publish Date December 14, 2018
The Words of Our Mouth

Our mouth should be used to build people up, not tear them down.

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