Wednesday, 5 December 2012

FASTING VERSUS HUNGER STRIKE

Matthew 17:21 – Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Fasting is not an option for Christians but a must. When Jesus was addressing the subject of fasting with His disciples in Matthew 6:16, He said “moreover, when you fast...” not ‘if you fast’ which means He expected them to fast. Fasting has so many advantages. It is used to increase spiritual strength (Matthew 17:14-21). Fasting disciplines the body and makes it a useful instrument to God. 2 Timothy 2:21 says if anyone himself cleanses from the latter, he will be a vessel for honour, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for good work. Fasting gives us victory over fleshly desires. Paul said “i keep under my body, and bring into subjection: lest that by any means, when i have preached to others, I myself show be a castaway”, 1 Corinthians 9:27. Fasting has been found to be helpful when dealing with addiction e.g. smoking, drinking, masturbation e.t.c. It has also been used to treat anger problems. By saying ‘no’ to natural appetite (food), you are building up the willpower to say ‘no’ to fleshly appetite. Fasting builds our inner strength and diminishes the power of the flesh over us, Romans 6:12-16. This was why before Jesus began His ministry, He set aside time to pray and fast. Matthew 4:2 says and when He had fasted for forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. There are victories or breakthrough that does not come except through fasting. We can work hard and read all the books on success. Without fasting one will be hitting his head against a brick wall. That was why when the disciples could not heal the man’s child; Jesus told them that this kind does not go except through fasting and prayer.

Fasting must be done in consonance with obedience to the word of God. When fasting is done in sin it becomes a hunger strike. In Zechariah 7:3-7, the people fasted on the 15th and 17th of every month for seventy years and saw no results. When they inquired of God, He told them they were on hunger strike not fasting because of they were living in disobedience. Fasting period is not a time to seek pleasure but to be sober. It is also not the time to fight or partake in unnecessary debates. It is a time to pray and study the bible not to spend four hours watching your favourite drama or sitcoms. It is a time to excel in good works – feed the hungry, give clothes to the naked. When you fast wear nice clean clothes, be radiant and smile not look angry and haggard and people begin to ask if you are alright. Fasting can turn to hunger strike when one keeps a sad countenance or disfigure his or her face so that people can inquire what is wrong and he can boast to them that he has been fasting and will be break by 6pm. What are the results of fasting? Isaiah 58:8-9 says your light shall break forth like the morning, healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall your rear guard and when you call to him He will answer.

KEY POINT: In the middle of the December celebrations, set time out to pray and fast for God’s protection. Also feed the hungry and homeless.

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