TO FAST OR NOT TO FAST
“Fasting humbles the soul before God (Psalm 35:13); chastens the soul (Psalm 69:10); and crucifies the appetites and denies them so as to give the entire time to prayer (2 Samuel 12:16-23; Matthew 4:1-11). It manifests earnestness before God to the exclusion of all else (1 Cor. 7:5); shows obedience; demonstrates the mastery of man over appetites; aids in victory over temptation; helps to attain power over demons; develops faith; crucifies unbelief; and aids in prayer (Matthew 4:1-11; Matthew 17:14-21). —Dake’s Topics.
The doctrine of fasting, like many others, can become a form of legalism and bondage to God’s people. That one should fast and pray, there is no doubt; but when it is taught as a regimented practice, it leads to self-righteousness.
There is no rule as to when and how often one should fast. The Bible demonstrates that fasting was practiced when some great decision, feat, danger or testing was being faced. We see that some fasted one day, three days, seven days, fourteen days, 21 days, and forty days. The doctrine should be taught, but never set as a routine or habit. It should spring from a soul in desperation.
Fasting can become a form of legalism or a source of power.
There is no magic in fasting. Unless it is understood and practiced according to Scripture, it will have an adverse effect on those who practice it. Jesus says that fasting should not be to impress others. “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” Matthew 6:16-18. Note also, “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.” Luke 18:11-12. Fasting did not help this crowd. In fact, it added to their inward problem. It might be best if no one knows when you are fasting.
The old Negro song says, “Every time I feel the Spirit moving in my heart, I will pray.” That is the right approach to fasting. As we have said, when you are facing a great need in your life, and the Spirit of God is moving you to prayer and fasting, that is the right time to do it. Like many doctrines in Scripture, it can become a form of legalism or a source of power. We need not fear that God’s people will fast to often; the warning and concern is stated above.
Pastor Ken Blue was born in Boswell, Ark. In 1955 he accepted Christ as his Savior. He and his wife Joyce were married in 1955. They have 5 children. He graduated from Midwestern Baptist Bible College in 1969 and started the Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood, Wa. where he pastored for 39 years. Because of health issues (ALS) he was forced to resign as pastor. It is his desire to continue to be used of God to help pastors and believers through this ministry.