Fasting is an important ritual of the Christian faith that brings you closer in relationship with God. It is a time to focus on God through meditation and prayer during the times that would have otherwise been spent preparing food or eating. Jesus instructed his disciples about the importance of fasting in Matthew 4:4 where he quotes the book of Deuteronomy (8:3), saying, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" He also instructed the disciples how to fast with joy and not with a feeling of sorrow, as the religious leaders at that time did. He says in Matthew 6:16-18, "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
One prayer to recite during a Christian fast can be taken directly from the book of Isaiah 58:6-8 in the Bible. It states: "Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard."
Before a fast, it is important to seek God's purpose for the fast, as well as the duration and type of fast. Many fasts are found within the pages of the Bible and, through meditation and prayer, the answers will become apparent. One such prayer may be, "Father God, you are the maker of all things and I worship you through this fast. Through your infinite knowledge, reveal to me the purpose, duration and type of fast that will further your Kingdom and draw me closer to you. It's in Jesus' name that I pray, amen."
Any Christian that starts a fast should also purge his heart and mind of any sin while their body is being physically purged. Confess your sins and ask God to bring to your mind any that you may have hidden in your heart. Seek forgiveness and forgive those who have hurt you. Meditate on the holy attributes of God, including his righteousness, holiness, perfection and faithfulness.
Ask God to keep you strong and mentally alert during and after your fast. Petition God for protection from Satan and any unholy distractions that will attempt to break not only your fast, but also your resolve to develop a stronger relationship with God.
- Campus Crusade for Christ: 7 Basic Steps to Successful Fasting and Prayer
- Crosswalk: Secrets to Fasting and Prayer
- Christian Assemblies International: Fasting and Prayer - the Atomic Power of God
- Bible Gateway: Matthew 4:4 (New International Version)
- BibleStudy.org: What is Fasting?
- Bible Gateway: Matthew 6:16-18 (New International Version)
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