Fasting has become a popular attempt to cleanse the body, a ritual performed by many health food gurus. The Free Online Dictionary describes it as voluntarily not eating food for varying lengths of time. Fasting is used as a medical therapy for many conditions. It is also a spiritual practice in many religions.
It goes on to describe a purpose. Fasting can be used for nearly every chronic condition, including allergies, anxiety, arthritis, asthma, depression, diabetes, headaches, heart disease, high cholesterol, low blood sugar, digestive disorders, mental illness, and obesity. Fasting is an effective and safe weight loss method. It is frequently prescribed as a detoxification treatment for those with conditions that may be influenced by environmental factors, such as cancer and multiple chemical sensitivities. Fasting has been used successfully to help treat people who have been exposed to high levels of toxic materials due to accident or occupation. Fasting is thought to be beneficial as a preventative measure to increase overall health, vitality, and resistance to disease. Fasting is also used as a method of mental and spiritual rejuvenation.
In the Bible, Fasting is used for another purpose altogether. Fasting is a way to impress upon God the seriousness of your prayer request so fasting is frequently spoken of alongside prayer. Jesus has instructions about this too. In Matthew 6, verses 16-18, He says, “When you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”
Fasting, as prayer, was supposed to be done in private. This is not a hunger strike…an attempt to raise awareness about some issue or other. This is something between you and God. No one else need know about it. Jesus tells us to comb our hair and wash our face. Don’t go around looking as if you’re making a big sacrifice and as if you’re suffering. In this society, many of us could go without food for several days before our bodies would be affected.
Consider the ramifications of fasting. Take into account your health issues, of course, but think about what it would mean to your prayer life. Walking closely with the Lord offers us a means to sit in personal communion with Him. Leaving the distractions of food behind can only enhance the experience.
For further study: Ezra 8:23; 2 Chron 20:3