To fast or not to fast. That is not my question. I think we should fast, and I think the Bible assumes we are going to fast. In the Gospels, Jesus seems to talk about fasting as a given. Three times in Matthew 6 he says, “when you fast,” Matthew 17:21 talks about fasting and prayer for exorcizing a demon (different topic but still), in Mark 2:20 Jesus says the wedding guest will fast after the groom is taken away, and so on. In my humble opinion, the Bible highly assumes and possibly even expects that Christians will fast. But why?
Well, there are a few reasons for fasting and most often what is thought of is during times of intense pressure or lamenting (weeping, sadness, etc.) we fast to seek God or to move Him to hear our prayers. That is an excellent conversation and one that is worth having. For now, I want to go a different way. I want to look at one reason for fasting that has to do with what you get. Yes, you get something out of fasting too. You get hungry.
I know that one is a no brainer you get hungry, no duh Mike. To be more specific you get empty. When you fast for blood work you are doing it so that the blood test is not tainted by anything you have eaten or drunk. Everything we take in has vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Those things can show up in our blood test and change the results. Look at an obvious example, if you are taking a blood test to see where your iron levels are then eating liver before the test will not give you the right results. You need to go into that test empty to get the right results. Fasting for spiritual reasons is similar. By neglecting our body of food, entertainment, pleasure, or whatever we are emptying ourselves of things that we need and desire in order to see where we are at. We come to God with that hunger and see what is going on with Him and with us. We strip away the other things for a time to become empty before Him. In that emptying and presenting we are offering ourselves as vessels to be filled back up. This is one of the reasons we do not show off our fast to other people.
Jesus in Matthew 6:18 says that those who parade their fast before men are filled up with praises from those men. They have their reward. They emptied themselves and the people around them filled them back up. A fast that is dedicated to God and that seeks Him will be filled back up by God. It is really just a simple math problem. Fasting is you minus food/pleasure/etc. or 1-1=0. 0 is the empty state and anything you add to 0 is the reward. But it starts with being empty.
I have had fasts where I find God new and fresh and others where nothing major really happens. I am ok with that. The point for me has become to present myself as an empty vessel before the God of the Universe and day here I am Lord so with me as you please. It is not the easiest thing but it sure is worth it.
Just a thought,