What is fasting?
- What do you think fasting is?
- Is it just to go without eating?
- Is it a weight-loss program?
- Is there a purpose? What?
Isaiah 58:5-10 (HCSB)
Will the fast I choose be like this: A day for a person to deny himself, to bow his head like a reed, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast and a day be acceptable to the LORD? Isn’t the fast I choose: to break the chains of wickedness, to untie the ropes of the yoke, to set the oppressed free, and to tear off every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your house, to clothe the naked when you see him, and not to ignore your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will appear like the dawn, and your recovery will come quickly. Your righteousness will go before you, and the LORD’s glory will be your rear guard. At that time, when you call, the LORD will answer; when you cry out, He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you get rid of the yoke among you, the finger-pointing and malicious speaking, and if you offer yourself to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted one, then your light will shine in the darkness, and your night will be like noonday.
According to the above passage, why should people fast?
- Fasting helps deny self
- When we fast we literally practice self-denial, which enables us to truly serve both God and others
- Fasting removes distractions
- God is the only one we need. When we fast, we block out everything else so that we can focus on Him
- Fasting helps us to conquer evil because we are more focused on God
- Fasting leads us to take faithful action because we are more focused on what God wants us to do.
- When we fast we choose to give up something (usually food) so that we can use that time to pursue God and those resources to help people.
- Fasting is worthless to us if we do not use the time to grow closer with God.
- Our fasting is worthless to others if we do not use it as an opportunity to serve.
- Try giving up soda for a week and giving the money you would spend on soda to someone in need.
What does God promise to those who fast in order to pursue Him?
- Their light would appear, or that people would see God in them.
- Their righteousness would go before them and the Lord’s glory behind.
- God promised to answer their prayers.
- Their light would shine in the darkness.
Questions for class discussion
- Repentance is asking forgiveness from God and forsaking your sin. How might fasting help in repentance?
- What are some reasons you might need to fast in your life right now?
- Isaiah associates fasting very closely with prayer. How might the two be related?
Questions about fasting
- Is fasting required for Christians?
- It is an act of worship and is a way that Christians can better seek to know God. Jesus assumed that his followers would fast (Matthew 6:16)
- Does fasting have to be from food?
- In scripture, fasting is always from food and/or drink.
- Fasting from food cultivates a hunger for God.
- Nothing softens our heart as well as physical suffering.
- See if students have any other questions about fasting.
This week fast from one meal. Instead of eating get a cup of juice, get by yourself with a Bible and spend one hour in prayer seeking God.