What is Fasting?
Fasting is not a spiritual term or term designated for Christians. Fasting simply means to abstain. Over the years fasting has been used by Christians for many purposes from penance to vanity, but there is a purpose for fasting that God has laid out in His word. In Isaiah 58, God speaks about those who use fasting for vanity,
“I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. Isaiah 58:3 NLT
He also mentions those who use it for penance,
You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord? Isaiah 58:5 NLT
God didn’t create fasting as a way to for us to feel good about ourselves and think we were holier than anyone else. God also didn’t create it as a way for us to punish ourselves for our sins. Neither of these ways brings us closer to Him. Instead, God wanted us to take time to abstain from earthly things so we could devote ourselves to heavenly things.
“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. Isaiah 58:6-7 NLT
How to Fast?
While the why is more important than the how, it’s good to fast from things that actually take up your time and attention. Most Christians fast from food because it allows us to remove the emphasis of the desires of our flesh and place more emphasis on the desires of our spirit. Some people fast from social media for a similar reason. They want to shift the focus from vanity and impressing others to humbly pleasing God. Whatever you choose to fast from be sure to turn that extra time and attention to God and serving Him. Rest assured that however you sacrifice, you will be blessed.
“Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. 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. Isaiah 58:8-9 NLT