A disciple should fast. The Lord said, “Whenever you fast…” (Mathew 6:16). Emphasis on the word, “Whenever.” The Lord did not say, “If ever you fast…” He said, “Whenever.” Fasting is not an option for a disciple. The Lord expects His disciples to fast.
The Lord gave the disciples advise on how they should fast, “Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face” (Matthew 6:16-17).
The context of this text is about not being a hypocrite (Matthew 6:1-5) and how to pray (Matthew 6:7-14). One criteria of hypocrites is that they love to practice their spirituality to be noticed by men. What others think about them is more important than what God thinks of them. The Lord gave the reason why they should wash their face and put on oil, “so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:18).
The Lord desires that His disciples do the opposite of what the hypocrites do, which is to focus on the Father alone, no need for men to notice their spirituality.
Be a disciple
- Acknowledge that Lord expects us to fast. Therefore, we should fast. Let us make sure that we apply this spiritual discipline. Set aside meals or days for fasting.
- Let us not fast like the hypocrites, who want to be noticed by men, rather, let us fast because we want a deeper communion with the Father.
- Let us avoid looking gloomy or haggard, instead, look presentable, even put on cologne.
- Encourage followers of the Lord to fast. You may invite them to fast with you.
- Teach the followers of the Lord not to be hypocrites when they fast, as taught by the Lord.
- Teach them to fast for the right reason, which is to dedicate fasting to the Father.
- Do I practice fasting? How often in a year?
- Do I fast to pursue a deeper relationship with God? Why do I fast?
- What do I pray for when I fast? Is the expansion of the kingdom part of it?
- Do I teach or encourage other followers of the Lord to fast? How many have I convinced?
Notes on fasting
Here are some information that might be helpful:
A. Types of fasts:
- no food, with water
- no meat, with water
- no food, no water, not advisable
B. Why people of the Bible fasted:
- to express grief
- to receive guidance
- to be protected
- to increase spiritual cravings
- to gain spiritual insight
- to receive mercy
- to worship at a deeper level
- to gain divine favor
- to endure hardships
- to overcome the flesh
- to humble self
- to achieve spiritual victory
- to increase spiritual power
- to cast our demons
- to share food to the hungry
- to pray for justice
- to ask for a special request