Blessed… Fasting

“And when you fast, don’t put on a sad face like the hypocrites. They distort their faces so people will know they are fasting. I assure you that they have their reward. When you fast, brush your hair and wash your face. Then you won’t look like you are fasting to people, but only to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:16-18, Common English Bible).

Let me be the first to say, and if you look at me you will know that what I am saying here is true, I have never been one to spend much time fasting. Before entering the ministry I was asked once to participate in a 4:00 fast. You couldn’t eat before 4:00 in the afternoon throughout Advent. I don’t remember the point of the fast, I just remember doing it. I have also participated in a few short term juice fasts. One year I did a meat fast through Lent. To be honest, I didn’t find any of them particularly meaningful.

I believe to truly find the meaning of today’s reading we need to return to the beginning of chapter 6. In verse 1 Matthew quotes Jesus saying, “Be careful that you don’t practice your religion in front of people to draw their attention. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” Then he goes on to talk about giving, prayer and now fasting. All of these are acts of worship. In each case, comes the caution against public displays.

There was initially only one day of fasting for Jews, the Day of Atonement (today, Yom Kipper). By Jesus’ day, the Pharisees had increased this for the super-religious to 108 days per year. Further, for the average Joe on the street, they insisted that each year they have four days of fasting.

In order to demonstrate how faithful they were, they went about the fast in sackcloth and ashes. They wanted everyone to know how faithful they were by the way they showed themselves to the world.

Jesus obviously was not impressed by this and here gives caution to those who want to show the outward signs of faithfulness while actually having nothing within. He is, in essence saying, “Folks, you’ve got it backward.”

At its very essence, our faith is a faith of the heart. It is a faith that doesn’t speak first to the world whether we are living this out in our giving, our prayer lives or in other forms of worship such as fasting.

I recently read something about “super-charged” prayer. It basically said that fasting super-charged our prayers and that when we are fasting God would multiply our prayers and the really hard things in life require both prayer and fasting. I’m not sure that is actually true. Does God answer prayer for those who are fasting and prayer more quickly than for those of us who simply pray? Possibly. But, I would submit, if one is going about fasting and prayer in the right ways, God may well do so but I don’t think it is really because of fasting. I think that because of the way they are seeking God, God is going to honor that kind of faithfulness.

What is your experience with fasting? Did it make a difference?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2017, All Rights Reserved

Published by drjkbroyles

I love Mike Ashcraft's book, "My One Word." For the past nine years I have participated and encouraged others to participate to in the "My One Word" Challenge. My first word was discipline was my word the first year. Since then my word has been focus, sight, jungle, peace, concentration, serve, genuine and this year is fit. I seek to be fit for my health, my family, my church, my ministries. I seek to be fit in any are of my life where God might point to me. I also have a nickname, "Dr. B." When I was a public high school teacher, Dr. B. is what most of my students called me, at least in my presence. I am still called that by many people though I no longer teach in public schools. I am the author of "Average Joe: With an Extraordinary Story" (available on Amazon). The book fits into the genre of "Biblical Fiction" or "Christian Fiction" and features some of the Bible's lesser known characters. The name of my blog is, "Fork in the Road." Life is filled with forks in the road. It isn't a matter of if we encounter a fork in the road, but when will we and how many will we experience in a lifetime. I love to strum my guitar. I am not a great guitar player but I enjoy it. I also enjoy writing music. I get excited with I feel a new song emerging. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog, "Bishop" in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 30 years as a United Methodist pastor, serving churches all over east and southeast Texas, from just north of Tyler to south of Houston, from the Gulf Coast to east of Madisonville. I currently serve Perritte Memorial UMC in Nacogdoches. I spent one year in the classroom, teaching High School government, economics, psychology, and sociology. Cindy and I have been married for 43 years. We have two grown sons and six grandchildren, three boys and three girls. I enjoy preaching and all it's aspects from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading. I have dabble in drawing and "painting" with pastels as well as woodworking and woodcarving. My current projects are two ukuleles. I collect, repair and restore guitars too. I play the guitar (badly, but I still do) I also enjoy working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, TX, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. This blog started out as devotional writings. In August of 2020, I made a major change to the blog, switching to a daily theme format. Sunday Sermon-usually my manuscript sermon Miscellaneous Monday-misc. writing, poetry, ministry Tuesday Thoughts-Devotion Wed. with Wesleys-hist. & theol. of early Methodists TED Talk Thursday-Video & appl. in current theology Five for Friday-5 things I've seen & my thoughts Sing-Along Sat. - Usually a new song I have written I write, "Strumming a G-Chord with Dr.B." to get my thoughts onto something permanent. After all, they say, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. Seeking the Genuine, Keith Lufkin, Texas August 2020

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