They said to him, â€œJohnâ€™s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.â€
Jesus answered, â€œCan you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.â€
Luke 5:33-35 (NIV)
Do you fast? It is a wonderful form of worship that I know many friends, teens to senior saints, have done to connect in a deeper way to their Lord. Fasting is denying myself and focusing on God. It may be fasting food, entertainment, or anything of value to me that says in the denial that God is first, most important in my life.
The â€˜digâ€™ of the Pharisees falls flat as fasting should be done only when God tells you to do so â€“ not because it is a meaningless ritual. While I would not presume to judge Johnâ€™s disciples or the Pharisees (although the Pharisees are so easy to poke!) worship must always be fresh and new from the heart. It must never be stale, recycled from previous years and totally bypassing my heart and my present relationship with my Lord.
Jesus says that fasting should not be done when He is with me but when we are apart. There are times when I am struggling with a question or â€˜seasonâ€™ in my life and cry out to Him and I hearâ€¦nothing. It is then that I may hear the Holy Spirit say, â€œFast, Jodyâ€ and draw near to God. The fasting brings focus and seems to fine tune my ears to hear Godâ€™s voice and filter out all distractions.
I look to the psalms of David and hear the heart words that are beautiful in their simplicity and love. David did not have the theological arguments of Paul or Isaiahâ€™s profound prophetic words. Davidâ€™s relationship with God was just simple. He saw God as the ALL. Period. He loved God unconditionally. He was honest about his sin. He also knew God would forgive when he asked. Davidâ€™s relationship with God was so personal that he knew when he was out of that relationship and quickly fell on his face asking forgiveness. He wanted only to obediently serve God and see Him get the glory. David was after his place in Godâ€™s heart. Did he fast? Yes. He fasted when his son was dying. Read 1 Samuel 12, starting with verse 15. David was crying out to God to change His mind. If you read the story, you can see that even though God did not change His mind, David never lost sight of his relationship with God and did not lose his trust in God. The fast did not produce the answer for which David prayed but it did produce Godly fruit.
I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; before the â€œgodsâ€ I will sing your praise.
I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.
When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted. Psalm 138:1-3 (NIV)