The Necessity and Purpose of Fasting Before the Lord

Fresh Manna
by Pastor Tim Burt

I am only 62 years old and am a young grandfather. I am still working and as busy in life as I’ve ever been. That sometimes bothers me when I think about my grandchildren. 

When my children had all gotten married, I began to envision having grandchildren and having all the time in the world to be with them when that day came. Now that I have six of them, I’ve come to the reality that it’s not quite what I envisioned. I don’t have all the free time I wish I had and they don’t all live in Minnesota with Renee and I. My daughter and her family are missionaries in Peru and two of my three sons live in other states. Travel has become a necessity to see all but one of my grandchildren.

For my one grandson Harrison, who does live in town, I have to set special time aside—consecrated time to see and spend time with him. The time with them is precious and special and truly refreshes me on the intensity of my love for them, and on the influence I desire to have in their life.

Fasting before God is like this. It’s consecrated and precious time to be focused on my love for the Lord by reading His Word, praying, and to reflecting on how I am living my life out before Him—making sure He is the priority of my life.

To God, sincere fasting is a holy thing.  Fasting is about consecration—about emptying yourself of all the distractions that knock you off course in your relationship with Him.

God would often call His priests and people to consecrate themselves. There are two primary words used in the Hebrew for consecration. One means to be filled—as to be filled or replenished wholly with the thoughts and the purposes of God. The other means to receive from God’s open hand to yours—His power, His direction, and His anointing so that you may once again, be His agent—His voice and hands in the earth.

Not eating is about denying  or restraining your flesh. You can’t live a God-life in this earth without learning to restrain your flesh when necessary. It’s not about weight-loss. That would simply and naturally be a by-product but should not play into its purpose.

A time of consecration and fasting doesn’t mean you can’t work or go about your day. It just means purposely having a greater degree of focus on you relationship and communication with God while resisting the distraction of your whining flesh. Fasting is a time to refresh yourself in the Word of God. Fasting is special and focused period of time where you consecrate yourself to reflect on your life’s transformation through God’s power—learning to say yes or to do what is right and what God is leading you to do for Him, and getting your flesh under the control of the Holy Spirit by practicing saying no to what you know is wrong. Fasting is a time of refocusing on the fact that you are the hands, the feet, and the mouth of Jesus in this earth. It is a time of refreshing yourself in the truth that you have been given power—the power of the Holy Spirit within you to walk through life with grace—His supernatural help to accomplish what He puts before you.

God spoke strongly to His people through the prophet Isaiah about fasting and they were intense words not to be taken lightly. His purpose for fasting becomes clear and I assure you again, fasting has strong purpose but it isn’t about weight loss.

Isaiah 58:1-14 (NLT) Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Tell my people Israel of their sins! Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to hear my laws. You would almost think this was a righteous nation that would never abandon its God. They love to make a show of coming to me and asking me to take action on their behalf. ‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have done much penance, and you don’t even notice it!’ “I will tell you why! It’s because you are living for yourselves even while you are fasting. You keep right on oppressing your workers. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like a blade of grass in the wind. You dress in sackcloth and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord? “No, the kind of fasting I want calls you to free those who are wrongly imprisoned and to stop oppressing those who work for you. Treat them fairly and give them what they earn. I want you to share your food with the hungry and to welcome poor wanderers into your homes. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. “If you do these things, your salvation will come like the dawn. Yes, your healing will come quickly. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Stop oppressing the helpless and stop making false accusations and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as day. The Lord will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Your children will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as the people who rebuild their walls and cities. “Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day. Honor the Lord in everything you do, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly. If you do this, the Lord will be your delight. I will give you great honor and give you your full share of the inheritance I promised… I, the Lord, have spoken!”

Fasting is a special and holy time with the Lord. It’s the time to change from distraction and lip-service to intimacy and purpose. Engage in it. It will change your life! But please, don’t call it dieting. It’s not. It’s fasting before the Lord!

In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt

Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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