I'm not here to boast. I'm not going to brag of my righteousness. Truth is when it comes to food fasts they are rare for me. In my current work it would be unwise and quite likely dangerous to go on an extended fast of food. Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert. That took incredible strength and determination plus dependence on God the father to sustain him but I believe in the right circumstances I could be up to the challenge. My Church is about to go on a 21 day fast starting next Monday. Some will go on food fasts but most will give up other things in their day to day lives. They will give up Coffee or desserts or a variety of other things.
So why fast? For me there are several good reasons to fast. First it increases my dependence on God. When fasting food and I get hunger pains I seek God immediately to help it pass and to sustain me. Secondly it increases my awareness of God as he can satisfy more than anything else. Thirdly it increases the amount of time I spend in prayer and in the word as I find I now have extra time on my hands.
What is the significance of fasting? It is an act of submission and self denial. Often it is used as an act of repentance. Fasting, the tearing of clothes and wearing of sack cloth and ash on your head was often an act of obedience when sinful acts were revealed to a people or person. The Pharisees fasted on Tuesdays and again on the Sabbath as an act of obedience often as repentance for their people more than themselves. Jesus recognized fasting as a good thing to do but to do so without any fanfare so to not show it as an act of righteousness. When asked why he nor his disciples fasted he replied they can do so after he is gone. Clearly implying it is good and proper to do as something somber. I believe it to be an act of faithfulness and self denial.
Who should fast? I would say it is something that Pastors and other Church leaders do more often than the flock but really anyone who is a believer in Jesus can and should. Depending on your health and circumstances a food fast may not be wise. How often is really up to you. I don't think I do it enough myself. I seldom go on food fasts and have given up other things for Lent like Chocolate for example but really am rather lax in the whole process to be brutally honest. Other religions have pre-planned fasts that anyone who claims to be a follower (Nation of Islam for example) must follow if they are to be considered a real believer. Christianity has no such rules as it is not a prerequisite for getting into Heaven. I believe it is a good thing to do and desire to do it more often myself but have never thought it was horrible if someone in my Church did not fast. It is between you and God. Seek him first and the Holy Spirit will lead you in what is right for you.
As I said off the top my Church is going on a 21 day fast. After much thought and prayer on the subject I have decided to give up television for the 21 days and use that time in prayer or reading the word. I figure that is a couple of hours a day so by the end of 3 weeks I should be much more righteous than I am now :) Okay, no not really but maybe I'll be a little closer to Jesus than I am now. I sure hope so.
Remember that when you fast don't go around bragging about it. I've probably talked more about my personal fasting than I should but I tend to be wordy.
Happy 2012 everybody!! What a great time it is to be alive! Blessings!