God’s Word contains commands about many things, from expressions of worship and relationships with other people to frequency of prayer (Deut. 6:5; John 13:34; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Surprisingly, though, there is no place in the Scriptures where the believer is specifically instructed to fast.
Yet the words “whenever you fast” (Matt. 6:16, emphasis added) show Jesus’ expectation that His followers would practice this discipline. And there are examples in the Bible of people who abstained from certain activities in order to draw close to God.
Before we go further, it is important to dispel a popular misunderstanding. Fasting doesn’t serve to change God’s mind, speed up His answer, or manipulate His will. Instead, fasting helps us focus our attention on God alone, so that we listen and worship wholeheartedly.
Denying ourselves in this way makes us better able to fix our eyes on Christ and hear Him clearly. His Spirit often starts by bringing to mind sin that needs to be confessed. In so doing, He sanctifies our thoughts—then He can use this precious time to intensify our desire for God, reveal His will, and grant understanding and peace. In essence, fasting binds us to Him in a oneness that is otherwise difficult to cultivate in our busy world.
Do you want to see God move in awesome ways? By removing anything that hinders your focus, you can fix attention solely on the Creator and cry out to Him regarding your needs. As you gain understanding about your Father and yourself, you will grow closer to Him.
Bible in One Year: Exodus 19-21