Focal Passage: Daniel 9:1-7,17-19
What comes to mind when you think about fasting? The thought of giving up food or other things we enjoy may bring about dread. However, fasting is a spiritual discipline that helps to cultivate intimacy with God. To give up something that is important to us is to say to God, “More than I want this thing right now, I want you.” Fasting is when we allow our spiritual needs to usurp our physical ones.
We should practice wisdom when fasting (especially from food), as we want to exercise this discipline in a healthy way. Because fasting is not as common as it used to be, fasting is a practice that we should pursue gradually. This is especially true for those who have medical conditions or concerns. While the Bible isn’t clear on all of the purposes of fasting, both the Old and New Testaments imply that it should be commonplace for God’s people. In fact, Jesus said that after He ascended into heaven, His disciples would fast until His return (Luke 5:33-39).
Confession and fasting go hand in hand. Although we may find that hiding our true selves from others to be fairly easy, our innermost thoughts and desires are not hidden from God. He knows all the things we’ve done or even thought about doing. Like Daniel, we should make confession an important part of our fasting practice. When Daniel began to fast, he also confessed Israel’s sin. While exposing our sin is not always easy, confession allows us to place our focus on God and the forgiveness that He offers to us.
When we pray and fast, we are reminded that we serve a personal God. He longs to hear our hearts and to answer us. His answers may not always be what we prefer; He hears us and answers us according to His good will and purpose. We grow in intimacy with God when we turn our attention toward Him through fasting. And when we confess our sins, we are reminded of God’s mercy and His faithfulness to forgive us.