SHOULD BELIEVERS FAST?


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I never intended writing on this now, I had wanted to do that later as I was working on an article “SOMETIMES LOOSE BUT DON’T FAIL”. But following the little trend on fasting and why the Grace-preaching believers are engaging themselves in it, a colleague in ministry had asked me to write on Fasting and prayers as regards to believers.
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I will begin by saying that often times we want to get things right and make sure we aren’t falling off the track; we question lots of things and also examine our experiences. God’s word remains the only source of learning spiritual matters for a believer! I had said in one of my nuggets “any teaching that gets you cold for God isn’t worth hearing” but we must also not let our emotions be kindled by the wrong teachings because we may only end up being emotional and still not have the experience of what Jesus has done! It is like listening to some of those soft and touching Gospel songs, getting our emotions simulated and then we think that must be the touch of God! You can also get similar feelings when you listen to just any soft instrumental!
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Let me be straight forward! If a believer comes to me and ask “will God act fast because we fast? Will our fasting get God to do something?” I will hold his/her hand, look into his/her eyes and say with smiles, “No darling. Our fasting does not move God neither does it activate God into action. Our fasting has nothing to do with God hearing us or doing something, we fast for ourselves!” But if a believer asks me “Should we fast?” I would respond “it is good to fast and pray”. Nowhere in the Bible were believers in Christ Jesus given a command to fast, our salvation do not depend on it and fasting does not facilitate miracles! However, it would be a deceit if we ultimately write off fasting and say “since it doesn’t get God to work we need to stop it”. The lie on fasting is like every other lies existing out there. We often hear things like “when you pray, the angels come down but when you praise, God himself comes down”, “when you don’t pay tithe your life will be tithe” and lot more! So many false teachings exist on almost every action we perform as believers; it is not peculiar to fasting alone. These lies come up simply because of ignorance and it is our duty to come in and show believers what God purposed each of those actions for.
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I once told a believer that sometimes we need to ask questions the other way round. Like “should we not fast? Should we not give in Church? Should we not pray?” The Scriptures didn’t say believers must fast and it also never said believers shouldn’t fast. Fasting is peculiar to humanity regardless religion but we do things differently. For a believer, we aren’t going on a hunger strike. Okay, let us look at few places in the Bible. In Luke 2:37, Prophetess Anna was reported to have served God with fasting and prayers. The Bible didn’t say she served God by fasting and prayers, she rather served God with fasting and prayers. This indicates that fasting and prayers are tools of service to God. In one of my teachings I said that when we pray we are calling into physical reality what God has settled in the spirit. Now, by fasting we are simply loosing focus on material things because we don’t want to be distracted. This explains why in Luke 5:33, the followers of John and the Pharisees fasted and prayed often but those of Jesus ate and drink. The former fasted and prayed because they wanted to focus on God’s promises, they didn’t want to distract themselves with food but the disciples already had the fulfillment of God’s promise with them. Jesus was right there with them, Jesus is the totality of God and everything is contained in Him. As long as they could see Jesus, it was needless trying to focus elsewhere!
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In Act 13:2, the Apostles were praying for a direction from God, they needed not to distract themselves with material things; they were consumed in the Spirit as they ministered unto the Lord and that was when they got direction from the Holy Spirit. In Act 14:23 we also see that Paul and Barnabas prayed with fasting before commending those they ordained to the work of God. Many times people are lost in their selfish desires or interest! Have you so much thought of a thing that you started dreaming about it? We are humans and it is natural to be affected by the wants and needs of the flesh, it can hinder us from hearing from God, it can hinder us from knowing what His will is because we are full of our desires and not full of the word! But when we decide to ignore material things for a moment and focus on God in prayers, we receive direction. Our fasting doesn’t make God speak; it rather makes us to receive revelation of God’s will! It deafens our ears from the voices of the world and our desires and opens it up to the voice of God.
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Fasting and prayers isn’t really about not eating food, it is chiefly about staying focused! Couples can decide to ignore sex for some time and get engaged in prayers (1 Corinthians 7:5), it is not those rituals obtainable from religions of the world, we aren’t trying to get God to pity us and it is not for the good of God but for our own good! Many times believers think they are more spiritual than another because they fast longer, it is not true! Fasting shouldn’t be done to a point that it becomes a distraction! We are not engaging in a hunger strike, it is not a sin when you don’t fast but it has profits to fast with the right motive. Fasting has generally come to mean setting food aside for sometime but it truly means to set aside those material things that distract us so that we can focus! You may need a social media break or you may need to withdraw from your friends for some time, you may need to leave that make-up kit for some time because you really need direction and you want to focus on God rather than hear your own desires!
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I have come across believers who think they are killing the flesh by fasting so that God will be pleased with them and they brag about how long they fasted and prayed! That is not the purpose of the Christian fast; it is to have our attention on God! Some also say “well, since I am not hungry today, let me just fast and get God’s blessings” that is a lie! God isn’t blessing you for watching your weight or going on a hunger strike! He made the foods for you after all it is us that fasting changes and not God. Perhaps God will look at how I have suffered today and bless me, aww… Sorry for your suffering but that is not true! Focus on Jesus and the inheritance you have in Him.
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Jesus didn’t say “don’t fast”, in fact He said in Matthew 6:16 “when you fast, do not look somber…” from what Jesus said you quickly see that God isn’t moved by being somber or suffering the flesh! God has moved already and Jesus is the result! In verse 18 of Matthew 16, one would be tempted to suggest that God rewards us for our fasting. Jesus was speaking to people who had very limited knowledge, in Our Lords Prayer He said “give us this day our daily bread…” but David who had some new testament revelation declared “The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need”. They would have misunderstood Jesus if He used words that were too high for them. Now, when you fast to be noticed, that is what you get! People will notice you and sympathize with you but when you fast because you want to focus more on Jesus, more revelation of Jesus is what you get!
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In summary, should we engage in a 7, 14, 21 days fast every New Year? It is not wrong if we do and it is doesn’t make us sinners or less spiritual if we don’t! Whatever we do, the right motive matters and we need to do it in faith! Are you in a Church or family where you are forced to do a New Year fast? The Good News is, your salvation doesn’t depend on it but now that you have understood fasting and prayers in the light of the Gospel why not use that opportunity to pay more attention to Jesus and perhaps it will open you up to directions of the Holy Spirit that will make you have a fulfilled 2018!
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God bless you.

-George O.N-
House of Vasileia

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