Archive for March, 2012

March 1, 2012

Fasting (March)

In Mark 9, we find Jesus coming down from the Mount of Transfiguration (possibly the original Mount Hermon!), and he immediately encounters a boy suffering from an evil spirit.  The disciples try to help, but the boy is not healed until Jesus intervenes.

Does that mean Jesus was the only one who could have helped the boy?  No!  Jesus tells his disciples that they could have helped.  As some Biblical manuscripts put it, Jesus replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting.”  With prayer and fasting, the disciples could have healed the boy.

Certainly, all healing comes from God, and through prayer and fasting we depend on the Holy Spirit to affect healing as we intercede for others and ourselves.  And while prayer is an important activity in every Christian church in the world, fasting is less popular.

Why is that?  We see our Master Jesus Christ fast before he preaches the Gospel to the world (Mark 1:9-13).  We see the psalmist fasting (Psalm 69, 109).  We see the prophets calling us to fast (Isaiah 58, Joel 1-2).  Jesus calls us to fast (Matthew 6).  We see the first Christians fasting (Acts 13).  Certainly, we as disciples of Jesus are to fast!

But why fast?  There are many reasons out there.  A recent study said that weekly fasting could help prevent Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other brain diseases.  Other studies claim that fasting can prolong one’s life.  These may be physical reasons to fast regularly.

Other reasons to fast may be to understand how people who have no food live.  What does it feel like to grow hungry after not eating for a week?  What does it feel like if you do not know if you will ever have another meal again?  Many children today know because they are living it.  As we fast, we can understand a little bit better their plight and their need.  When we fast, we can remember them and help with our time and money.

There is another reason we fast, and Jesus tells us this as he is fasting in the desert.  “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).”  When we fast, we can direct our desires from food to God, from our mouths to God’s mouth, from physical sustenance to spiritual sustenance.  Fasting makes us vulnerable to God changing our lives, showing our sins, and instilling righteousness.  We realize our complete and utter dependence upon God, and seek a life-giving word from the only mouth that can feed us, God’s alone.

During this season of Lent, when Christians have historically took time to fast, remember that God wants to grow you and is ready to do so if you are ready for God.

Pastor Rich