Fasting from Pleasure for His Pleasure

Fasting is one of those topics that seems relatively unspoken about in Evangelical Christian circles, which is peculiar since Jesus assumes that we will fast (Matt 6:16, Mark 2:20). It also does not seem like many people fast or are even aware that this is something that they should practice. Let's take a look at people who fasted in the Bible and their reasons.

1. David fasted for his child who was going to die because of his sin.
David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. (2 Sam. 12:16)
"While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, 'Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me.'" (2 Sam. 2:22) 
2. Ezra and the people fasted for a safe journey.
Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. (Ezra 8:21)
So we fasted and implored our God for this, and He listened to our entreaty. (Ezra 8:23)
3. Daniel fasted to seek God's mercy for his people.
Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. (Dan. 9:3)
O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. At the beginning of  your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. (Dan. 9:22-23)  
These people fasted to seek God's mercy and grace. We can also see that fasting is a demonstration of humility and complete dependence on God. Isaiah 58, the chapter on fasting in the Bible, gives us even more insight into fasting.

1. Fasting and prayer are intrinsically linked. Fasting is a demonstration to God of how important it is to us.
Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. (58:4)
2. Fasting cannot be a ritual which only involves abstaining from food as way to manipulate God. Fasting must come from a changed heart.
Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? (58:5)
3. Fasting is about abstaining from your own pleasure to seek the pleasure of God.
"Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? (6-7)
In summary, your voice will not be heard if fasting is just a day of abstaining from food to make your request to God. However, if your fasting comes from a life of denying your own pleasure for the pleasure of God your request will be heard on high.
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. They you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, "Here I am."

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