Reading the Word
Matthew 6:16–18 (ESV) — 16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Understanding and Applying the Word
Biblical fasting was not used as a way to lose weight. Biblical fasting was not used as a way to twist God’s arm to get what you wanted. Biblical fasting was also not a way to draw attention to yourself so people would think of you as more spiritual. Unfortunately, it was often used in this last way. People would refrain from eating and walk around letting everyone know how hungry and miserable they were. Instead of keeping their fasting between them and God, they sought the approval of others because that was all that really mattered to them.
True biblical fasting was meant to be an outward display of relying on God in dire circumstances. Fasting essentially said, “God, I need you more than I need anything else right now. I need you more than even food.” When we fast, it is our way of showing dependence on God. It is a cry for help from the One who provides and sustains us at all times. Fasting is a deeply private and intimate appeal to our Father. It was never meant to bring the focus on us.
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