TODAY’S MEDITATION – What’s fasting all about? (Matthew 6:16)

Today’s passage says this: “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.”

My brother, my sister, may be you know what fasting is all about, but a reminder is still good because we can become so complacent, especially with the spiritual things, that we end up doing things our own way and not the way of God. Fasting, is in fact going without food in order to spend time in prayer. In fact, this is a time when prayer should be our main focus, and not only that, a time when we put the Lord and the others first. Fasting will teach you self-discipline and help you develop the fruit of the spirit, making you humble too as it reminds you that you can live with a lot less as you appreciate God’s gifts.

In this passage, Jesus is not condemning fasting, but hypocrisy. Yes, when you are fasting, it is a personal matter between the Lord and you: you don’t call the whole world telling people you are eating, so why would you need public approval or appreciation of your fasting? Besides, the Bible teaches us that fasting was mandatory for the Jewish people once a year on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:32). However, the Pharisees voluntarily fasted twice a week to impress the people with their ‘holiness’. My friend, let me recall you that Jesus commended acts of self-sacrifice done quietly and sincerely because He wanted people to adopt spiritual disciplines for the right reasons, not from selfish desire for praise from the others. Therefore, if you fasting is a matter of publicity, know that you are starving yourself for nothing.

Look at examples of people who fasted sincerely and for different reasons to understand how we ought to do it:
– “David begged God to spare the child. He went without food and lay all night on the bare ground” – (2 Samuel 12:16)… even so, God took the child, but that did not stop David to continue walking with God!
– “When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven”. (Nehemiah 1:4)… God granted Nehemiah favour before the King to be able to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.
– “So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and fasting. I also wore rough burlap and sprinkled myself with ashes” (Daniel 9:3)… and God gave Daniel protection and favour.
– “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king If I must die, I must die.” (Esther 4:16).. And God granted Esther and a people favour, and avenged His people…

My friend, all these examples show one thing: if fasting is not accompanied by prayer, acts of humility and self-sacrifice, it is worthless before the Lord. Stay blessed in Jesus’ name.