Six biblical reasons and four additional reasons:
1 – Jesus said we should fast. In two places: 1) Matthew 6:17 “When you fast” not “If you fast” and 2) Matthew 9:15 – when Jesus is gone, his followers will fast. He is gone. We fast.
2 – We are in a spiritual war with demonic forces of darkness and the only way to battle those is through fasting and prayer (Matthew 17:21)
3 – The early church fasted (Acts 13:3)
4 – Fasting is associated with appointed elders (Acts 14:23). When we appoint elders we should be called to fast.
5 – Jesus launched his ministry with fasting (Matthew 4). When we launch new ministries or new people into ministry we should have a period of fasting and prayer.
6 – Fasting comes with reward from God. Ever noticed this? “But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:17-18)
7 – Fasting and prayer gets us in tune with God.
8 – Fasting helps us recognize our insufficiency and God’s sufficiency.
9- Fasting develops deep reliance on God in all things
10 – Fasting lessens our fleshly desires and makes room for the fruit of the Spirit. I have never had more peace, patience, etc than in seasons of regular fasting and prayer.
We need to be fasting. We need to talk about fasting. We don’t talk about it because Jesus said (in Matthew 6) not to make a big deal of it. We turned that into don’t talk about it ever. That’s a mistake. Maybe the church is anemic in some sectors because we aren’t taking up the practice that tunes us into full reliance and dependence on the all sufficiency of God!
One tip on fasting – make it a small commitment that can be done weekly rather than a one time deal or something so big you can’t stick with it. As always, a disclaimer – if your health doesn’t permit fasting from food, find something else you find yourself heavily depending on and fast in small increments. For those who are healthy, fasting from things like TV is good and healthy but not the same thing the Bible is talking about.
If you would like more info on fasting and what Jesus taught about it, you can watch this video that goes into more detail. God bless you as you start the wonderful journey of fasting and prayer!
While fasting is admirable for several reasons, the idea that Christ is gone is deeply troubling. This is the amillennial paradigm in which most of us in the CoC were raised… but it was not the view of our spiritual predecessors. Are we not living stones in the new Jerusalem in which Christ is the door, the Tree of Life and the chief cornerstone? Is not Christ’s sacrifice for the purpose of atonement- (at-one-ness?) Have not the two been made one flesh? Or do we waste away our lives like an espoused virgin waiting and waiting for her betrothed to return from a long voyage only to wither away in old age with our hopes and dreams completely unfulfilled?
Pr 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
Christ the King is here in our midst dwelling in our hearts! The Garden has been restored as the New Creation! We join this as new creatures as we come out of the water!
Many Orthodox churches of Christ have an empty throne sitting up by the communion table to signify Christ’s presence. They spend about 45 minutes every week building up to the climax of their worship time- communion with Christ.
Communion: “the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.” (Oxford Languages)
There was a generational period of mourning and separation in the miraculous days of the apostles- But that is clearly past and the Lord’s supper should now be celebrated as the great wedding feast that never ends- as described by Isaiah and Christ et al (particularly notice Mt 8:5-13!)
Fast for health. Fast for mental clarity in times of distress. Fast to focus on the Bridegroom and give him the intimacy he desires…
But please don’t fast for a distant clockmaker who set a plan in motion, departed and will only return at the “end of all things” to see how it all worked out. He is only the deluded fantasy of ancient philosophers.
I don’t think Christ being physically absent but spiritually present means that we should not take his words seriously in Matthew 9. Jesus is talking about an event – the time he is taken away. Jesus told us he would be taken away for the Spirit to come. This is referencing his ascension. What I am saying is not advocating Deism – not at all. It isn’t “deism or agree with you” in this case. Jesus was taken from us to go back to the Father just as He said He would be. So, yes the Spirit is with us. But Jesus is bodily with the Father in heaven. So yes this gives us reason to fast and it is not an amillennial view.
First off I thank you for your thought provoking blog; also for your kind reply.
I did not intend to attribute Deism to you- but the more I study, the more I resent the blatantly inconsistent things I was taught growing up in the CoC (there were also some good things!)
Valentine and Hicks have shown the connection between the amillennial view and deism and many other evils we were taught…
Through Candida Moss and other scholars we now see that martyrdom stories and major points of doctrine were created in the fourth and fifth centuries to support the Papacy… Many changes were made to the Greek texts that were brought into the Vulgate and all the early English translations.
Now in my sixth decade, I am determined to challenge everything we were taught.
The idea of Christ retaining a physical body after he ascended into the spiritual realm is extremely popular and widespread. But can it be reconciled with these truths?
* I Cor 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. (surely that goes for the king as well as the subjects?)
* I Cor 12: 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
* Eph 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
So if Christ and the Father live in us as the Spirit, but He also keeps a 5’8″ Judean carpenter’s body in the closet, doesn’t that make for two bodies and contradict Paul?
The idea of physical matter existing in the spiritual dimension is actually ludicrous without our preconceived notions.
I perceive that we should focus on our present spiritual oneness with Christ and the perfection of his redemptive work, rather than continue the temporary mourning of his earthly friends.
Is 58: 6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
13“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable,and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
I appreciate the comments on fasting. It seems most of the time I have been involved in fasting has been from a corporate announcement like involvement for selecting elders. And most of the time then it is just an announcement, Wednesday is called for a day of fasting. But we seem to be left to our own devices to get it done. At least offer a corporate gathering for fasting (and submit a day of vacation at work) and join the gathering. At least that is how it happens at a synagogue.