Shouldn’t we be fasting?
Satan and his most fierce demons will not respond to our personal religiosity and self-piety. They can overcome the human will. But they will respond to a disciple who will fast and pray, and say “You get out of here … and Holy Spirit you take over and lead me!
Study the story of Jesus’ wilderness temptation found in Luke Chapter 4. The incarnate Jesus is shown beginning His ministry clothed with a power He could not have in His ministry in any other way. If it were not necessary for us to learn, why would this experience and lesson about Jesus, our model, be recorded in Scripture?
If we read the Bible faithfully, do we buy all of the Scriptures? Paul instructed a young pastor named Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It sets us straight and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, and fully equipping us for every good thing God wants us to do. (2Tim. 3:16-17) Need I add 2 Tim 2:15? “Study and do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
Fasting could be considered as a choice. But, I also believe it can also be seen as obedience, and not to just be seen as spiritual rigor or routine. It’s one of the great “Spiritual Disciplines” (Richard Foster’s book). In Matthew 6, Jesus talks about three duties of every Christian: giving, praying and fasting. And He doesn’t use the word “if”, He uses the words, “When you fast …” (vs. 16). We could choose not to fast; but why would we? Why would we choose to stay where we are when God has so much more for us? Why would we want to miss out on more power available from God’s Holy Spirit?
It’s totally cool to note how Jesus faces the temptations during His time of fasting and wandering in the wilderness. We see Jesus talking back to satan, while quoting words of Scripture. We always need to be memorizing Scriptures so that we have the “sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17) when entering our day – “when the day of evil comes.” (Eph. 6:13) Luke concludes our teaching by saying, “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit.” (Lk. 4:14) He had conquered temptation and was ready to embrace the purpose for which the Father had sent Him.
Personally, I take the path of believing that fasting does not have to be focused exclusively on not eating. Of course, it is also wise to be cautious for health reasons. Fasting is the withdrawal or abstinence from something that enables additional focus in order to better listen to the leading of the Lord. I had a minister friend who told me he could give up eating for a period of time, but not give up using his cell phone or listening to the news on the radio. Midst a challenging discussion, we were led to decide those might be his best choices as an “approved worker” who is “fully equipped.” If in doubt, ask the Lord to lead you.
Pastor Bill Baltz is a member of the Carson Valley Ministers’ Association.