Matthew 6:16-18 CSB – “Whenever you fast, don’t be gloomy like the hypocrites. For they disfigure their faces so that their fasting is obvious to people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that your fasting isn’t obvious to others but to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Wrong Reasons to Pray & Fast
- We Don’t Fast & Pray To Impress God
Matthew 21:22 CSB – Jesus said, And if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Matthew 6:7 CSB – When you pray, don’t babble like the Gentiles, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words.
- We Don’t Fast to Impress People
Matthew 6:5 CSB – Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward.
Matthew 6:16 CSB – Whenever you fast, don’t be gloomy like the hypocrites. For they disfigure their faces so that their fasting is obvious to people
Matthew 6:17 CSB – Jesus said [fast so it] isn’t obvious to others but to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Proverbs 16:18 CSB – Pride comes before destruction,
and an arrogant spirit before a fall.
- We Don’t Fast As a Religious Ritual
Isaiah 1:11-15 CSB – God’s thoughts about religious rituals
“What are all your sacrifices to me?”
asks the Lord.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings and rams
When you come to appear before me,
who requires this from you—
this trampling of my courts?
13 Stop bringing useless offerings.
Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons and Sabbaths,
and the calling of solemn assemblies—
I cannot stand iniquity with a festival.
14 I hate your New Moons and prescribed festivals.
They have become a burden to me;
I am tired of putting up with them.
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will refuse to look at you;
even if you offer countless prayers,
I will not listen.
Why Do Christians Fast?
- Jesus Expects Us to Fast
Matthew 6:2-3 CSB – So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward.
3 But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
Matthew 6:5-6 CSB –
v.5, “Whenever you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites…
v.6, But when you pray, go into your private room…
Matthew 6:16-17 CSB –
v.16, “Whenever you fast, don’t be gloomy like the hypocrites
v.17, But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face
- We Fast to Express Dependence On God
“you have to give up to go up in life”. – John Maxwell
Luke 17:33 CSB – Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.
Matthew 4:4 CSB – Jesus once said, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
How do you fill in the blank?
“Man must not live on ___________ alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Stanford’s Bing Marshmallow Study
- We Fast to Help Tune Our Ear to God
Jonah 3:4 CSB – Jonah set out on the first day of his walk in the city and proclaimed, “In forty days Nineveh will be demolished!”
Jonah 3:5 CSB – Then the people of Nineveh believed God. They proclaimed a fast and dressed in sackcloth—from the greatest of them to the least.
Jonah 3:7-8 CSB – By order of the king and his nobles: No person or animal, herd or flock, is to taste anything at all. They must not eat or drink water. 8 Furthermore, both people and animals must be covered with sackcloth, and everyone must call out earnestly to God. Each must turn from his evil ways and from his wrongdoing.
Practical Steps For Fasting and Praying
- Commit to Training, not Trying
1 Corinthians 9:24-25 CSB – Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. 25 Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable crown.
Discipline works by indirection.
A discipline is something we can do that enables us to do what we haven’t yet been able to do by our own direct effort. – Dallas Willard
1 Timothy 4:7 – train yourself in godliness.
Luke 6:40 CSB – A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.
- Adopt a New Attitude – Fasting as Feasting with God
Matthew 4:2-4 CSB – After he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
3 Then the tempter approached him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
John 4:31-32 CSB – the disciples kept urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.”
Matthew 24:35 CSB – Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
Principle: The Strategic Allocation of Attention
Psalm 103 CSB –
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Isaiah 40:30-31 CSB –
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
Philippians 4:6-7 CSB – Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19 CSB – And my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
What is the Plan?