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Spiritual Discipline-Part 6

Spiritual Discipline-Part 6

Jesus said,  "Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Matthew 6:16-18 (NKJV)

We are looking at a 6-part devotional series titled, "Spiritual discipline."  We've learned that we will have a propensity to repeat our mistakes within our Christian walk until we implement "Spiritual disciplines" into our life - disciplines that will help us to stay focused on God and His Word.  In addition to these disciplines, we must purpose in our heart to be filled daily with the Spirit of God (See Eph 5:18).  Once we have learned these principles, we can implement them to ensure an effective Christian life that brings honor to God and edifies those around us.

Every one of us has probably experienced certain areas in our life where we have failed to do what we knew to be right.  The reason for making these choices inevitably came down to a lack of "Self-discipline."  This series has been written to help us in developing Christ-like characteristics that are brought about by practicing, "Spiritual discipline."

In Part 5, we took a look at our fourth "Spiritual discipline," which was "Stewardship."  In Part 6 of this series we will begin to look at our fifth and final "Spiritual discipline," which is:

  • Fasting
Next to Stewardship, "Fasting" is probably the hardest discipline to be implemented into the Christian's life.  We can look around and see plainly that the two areas that people tend to get fussy with on a consistent basis is with their money and their food.  

We should know though that Fasting is a sacrifice unto the Lord.  We don't see Jesus commanding His disciples to fast - nor is their any specific command for us to "Fast."  Despite this absence, there is credible scripture to suggest that it was presumed that believers would practice the discipline of "Fasting."  And we know that there are many purposes for practicing it.  "Fasting" helps us remove our focus from earthly pleasures.  Here are some things we should know about "Fasting."

  • Fasting is to be done in a manner of humility and secrecy. (Matt. 6:16-18; Lk. 18:9-14)
  • A Fast may be either absolute or partial. (Complete Fasts: Duet. 9:9,18; Ezra 10:6; Est. 4:16; Acts 9:9, 27:33)  (Partial Fasting: 1Kings 17; Dan 10:3)
  • Only Fasting that is done with the right motive of glorifying God can be pleasing in His sight. (Luke 18:9-14)
It is important to know, we don't achieve some sort of higher spiritual ranking because we abstain from food, water, or some activity that is consuming our life - God blesses us when we come before Him with a proper heart; willing to sacrifice as we sincerely seek the Him for needs.

Q:    When should I fast?

A:    We are given many occasions for fasting within the Scriptures.  Here are just a few examples:

  • Fasting is done during intercession for the people of God. (Ex. 24:18; Dt. 9:8-9, 12-20, 23-27; Ezra 10:6; Dan. 9:3-4; Joel 2:12-14, 17-18; Jonah 3:5-10)
  • Fasting is done for humbling and chastening oneself. (1 Kings 21:27-29; Ps. 35:13; 69:10)
  • Fasting is done for seeking the Lord and His way. (Judges 20:26-28; 2Chronicles 20:3; Ezra 8:21-23)
  • Fasting is done for repentance and confession of sin. (1Sam. 7:6; 1Kings 21:27-29; Ezra 10:6; Neh. 1:4-7; 9:1-3; Jer. 36:6-10; Dan. 9:3-5,20; Jonah 3:5-10)
  • Fasting is done for the receiving of healing. (1Sam 1:5-11, 18-20; 2Sam. 12:15-16, 22-23; Isa. 58:8; Acts 9:9, 17-19)
  • Fasting is done in preparation to receive word from God. (Dt. 9:18, 25; Isa. 58:9)
  • Fasting is done for Spiritual deliverance. (Isa. 58:6; Mk. 9:29; Mt. 17:21)
  • Fasting is done to seek assistance in time of fear. (2Chron. 20:3)
  • Fasting is done when lacking material provision in times of need. (2Cor 11:27)

As valuable as "Fasting" is to the Christian believer, it is in no way a guarantee that we will be given what we are seeking - we must come into submission that God's plan is the best plan regardless of what we think.  And even though "Fasting" is great, we must never forget that there is something even better according to God - obedience!

...Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. 1Samuel 15:22 (NKJV)

Hey Christian, I want to encourage you today to seek the Lord in prayer - ask Him about giving you guidance, wisdom, strength and discernment in applying these "Spiritual disciplines" to your life.  Pray about making a commitment to God in your prayer life; in your reading of the Word (Bible); in your stewardship with the things He has entrusted you with; with the fellowship of other believers, and with fasting.  Discipline yourself in the areas where the flesh is dictating what is being done.  Submit to God in these areas and take it one day at a time and watch what God does.

STUDY QUESTION: What can we learn with respect to "Fasting" according to the Scriptures contained within this devotional?

PERSONAL INVENTORY: Are you willing to "Fast" unto the Lord?  

APPLICATION: Find those areas in your life that you feel are out of balance and seek the Lord's guidance to fast for them.  God honors a heart that is willing to seek earnestly.

Father, Thank You for Your mercy, grace, love and wisdom.  Help me to be disciplined in these areas Lord.  Help me not to do them out of my own effort or in legalism.  In Jesus precious name, amen...

Be blessed, Pastor Scott

Copyright ©2017 by Pastor Scott Wright.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Bible text from the New King James Version is not to be reproduced in copies or otherwise by any means except as permitted in writing by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Attn: Bible Rights and Permissions, P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214-1000