SESSION 16: FASTING

Ask:

Do you have a good understanding of what it means to fast?  What does it mean to you?


Teaching Time:

There is an important word that most people miss in Matthew 6. Jesus said “when you fast” not “if you fast”, so He seems to be saying that fasting should be done on a regular basis by people who follow Jesus. Fasting is a temporary renunciation of something that is in itself good, like food, in order to intensify our expression of need for something greater — namely, God and his work in our lives. While fasting is suggested throughout scripture to be a way to gain understanding, closeness with God or to create humility in our lives, nowhere in scripture do we see it commanded of us. However, throughout the book of Acts we see the early Church seeking God for answers through prayer AND fasting. While these two can function separately, there are instances in the life of a believer where they work best in tandem. Jesus insisted that our fastingnot be for the sake of impressing other people. In fact, we should go out of our way, he says, as much as possible — washing our face, combing our hair — to keep other people from knowing that we are fasting. And that gives fasting for Christians a radically Godward focus. In this sense, fasting is a great test and confirmation that God is real to us, since in many situations

God is the only person who knows you’re fasting. At its core, fasting is a way of expressing our deep longing for intimacy with God and ultimately our desire for Jesus to return. It’s stretching our soul out before our Father asking Him to move on our behalf.


Application:

Read Psalm 42:1-2

  • Have you ever experienced a longing for God like David expresses in this passage?
  • Why do you think fasting might draw us closer to God?

Read Matthew 6:16-18

  • How does Jesus instruct people to fast?
  • Why do you think that He suggests we fast?
  • What are some situations in life where fasting is helpful?
  • Here are a few examples, but there are many more.
  1. Big decisions/ Needing an answer from God
  2. Spiritual warfare
  3. Intercession for a brother or sister in Christ
  4. Times of testing
  5. Distance from God


Read Acts 13:2 and Acts 14:23

  • Why does fasting in unison with prayer and worship seem to be such a common practice in the Church in Acts?
  • Did prayer and fasting move the hand of God or did prayer and fasting align the people’s heart with God?

It allowed the removal of worldly distractions to allow the early Christians to move closer to the heart of God, thus being able to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit.

  • How can we help one another begin to make fasting a regular part of our relationship with Jesus?


Where do we get it wrong?

  • Myth 1: Fasting is only used for health benefits.
  • Myth 2: 
  • Myth 3: 
  • Myth 4: 

Useful Tools:

Personal Guide to Fasting


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