When Pastor Brandon was young, his church and family fasted four or five times a year-New
Year’s Eve, before Easter, at Pentecost…As a fifth-grade boy, he was hungry and wanted to eat. He hid so many snacks under his bed. Now as an adult, he understands the purpose and the power of fasting because he said, ”God wants my full attention.”
To set the foundation, Pastor Brandon shared two verses:
“But he answered, ’It is written, ’Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” - Matthew 4:4
“Jesus said to them, ’My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.’” - John 4:34
Bread alone should not be our main focus. However, so often we see food as the only
sustenance for living. In these verses, the LORD makes it clear that His Word is food and so is obeying His will.
Pastor Brandon shared several purposes of fasting. First, he gave us the definition of fasting
which is to abstain from eating certain foods or drinks like sugar, processed foods, alcohol,
coffee, and tea in order to get closer to God. Before when I fasted, I would have to write down daily why I was fasting. I did not fast to be part of the church or to check it off my to do list. I fasted to get closer to God, but if I got so caught up in the food, I would just be “going through the motions.” Pastor Brandon stated, we need ”to take away from your life support of food to focus on the life support” of our soul and spirit. Because I am so goal oriented, I get caught up in the doing instead of the being. LORD, help me to focus on “every word that comes from the mouth of God” instead of what I am putting in my mouth.
Another purpose for fasting is to make a spiritual break though. “The flesh lusts against the
Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another….” Galatians 5:17 That verse rings so true in my life. My spirit and my flesh clash against each other. How do I stop catastrophizing when I get challenging news? I cannot do it on my own; only with God’s direction and help can I let go of this negative habit. Pastor Brandon shared,”The flesh cannot be trained or tamed. It has to be crucified.” What a true statement. If I want my prayer life to be better, stronger, more consistent, I need to consciously set time aside to seek the LORD’s guidance and help, then talk to Him, praise Him, thank Him, and be still. I want to fill my time with Him instead of television, social media or shopping online.
Another purpose is to hear God more clearly. Has the LORD been talking to you? Have you
been ignoring Him or questioning Him? By purposely letting go of certain foods and habits, you might hear Him better. The fourth purpose is realize that God is worth pursuing more than sugar, alcohol, potato chips, coffee, tea, or ice cream. This time may help you evaluate your priorities. In last week’s sermon, Pastor Brandon posed these questions, “What has God done for you? How has God been faithful?” When we designate time to think on these two questions, we will be able to hear Him better.
The final purpose is to experience God and get more of Him. We often hold back and protect our special corner or area from God (though He knows everything). Do we fear He will take away our favorite hobby, special treasure? Are we afraid our Abba Father, who loves us dearly, will take away what we value a lot? The question is “Has it become my idol?” We get to give Him full access of every corner of our hearts, souls, minds, and bodies. An example Pastor Brandon used was Kobe Bryant who woke up two hours earlier than required 6:00 AM meeting time to practice and eat. He was “all in.” May we be “all in” to the LORD and His direction for us. I may have thought I gave the LORD full access to my life before, but are there secret pockets and areas that I have held back? The LORD has given us full access to Him. May I clean out my secret pockets and give Him full access to me. Pastor Brandon advised us to “Write down what you want to break, change, move and loosen in your life—Fast with a purpose.”
The second major point is the power of fasting. If you do not know the purpose of fasting, you cannot see the power of fasting. For example, Moses fasted for forty days and nights according to Exodus 34:28; then he was able to receive the Ten Commandments. Also “Daniel determined not to defile himself by eating food and wine given to him by the king.” Daniel 1:8 You are familiar with Daniel’s experiences surviving the lions’ den and interpreting kings’ dreams. Through clean eating, faithfulness to God and praying, the LORD used Daniel mightily.
In Matthew, two accounts show the power of fasting. In Matthew 4:1-11, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness where He fasted for forty days and nights. When satan tempted Jesus with food, protection and power, Jesus counteracted each temptation with Scripture. He withstood these powerful temptations. Another situation is in Matthew 17:14-21 where the disciples tried to heal a demon possessed boy. The disciples asked Jesus why they could not heal the boy, and Jesus’ answer was,”This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Matthew 17:21 (NKJV) What a powerful combination of fasting and praying. Pastor Brandon reminded us that “Fasting without prayer is just a diet.” May we fast and pray to give the LORD full access to us.
Remember, “God wants my full attention.” One way He can get it is when I choose to be more attentive to Him and His Spirit through fasting and praying. May I be still and know that He is God so I can be salt and light in this dark and compromised world.
Written by Larry and Annette Linthicum