Chris Best is pastor of Living Well Sunday fellowship class here at Midtown Baptist Temple. He is also our missions pastor. Our church is currently in the midst of three weeks of prayer and fasting. It is always a good idea during these seasons to remind ourselves of the the value of fasting, why we do it and what it achieves. Chris takes some time here to help us focus on what is most important when setting aside time to fast.
Isa 58:6-7 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? (7) Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
you need it to “be okay”.
If we think about the things that keep us from spending time seeking God, the fickle distractions of the world we naturally seek will probably come to mind (Ja 4:4-5). For example, we often spend more time on social media than we do in prayer. We spend more time on Netflix than we do on the Word of God. The problem is that these things we seek after can become idols in our lives; that is, they become things we go to for well-being instead of God.
However, once something becomes an idol, you are now in bondage to that thing for your peace—you need it to “be okay”. Consider 1 Corinthians 6:12 which says, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”
We know the world offers avenues of satisfaction, but its satisfactions are fleeting because they are not built upon God’s ways. We cannot go to the world and then try to receive satisfaction from God. James 4:4 says, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
Fasting helps us identify which things outside of the Lord have a degree of control over us.
Fasting helps us identify which things outside of the Lord have a degree of control over us. When addicts develop dependence on their drugs, a discontinuation of its use will cause withdrawal symptoms. Likewise, we may feel some sort of discomfort when we fast from comfort eating, social media, etc. This is good for us. Loosing bands, undoing burdens, and breaking yokes might not be easy, but it will be good. This separation is good, but not if we are only focusing on what we’re not doing.
As I separate from the world I separate unto God. Drawing near to Him is the goal. I know I have done this when the things I fast from no longer matter. I can take that cupcake or leave it. If I take it, it is a blessing. If I leave it, it doesn’t matter because the things of earth have grown strangely dim in light of His glory and grace. Either way I am okay because He is enough, and I have drawn near to Him.
If you have not done so yet, take this time of fasting to make sure things and activities do not control you through your dependence on them for your satisfaction. At the same time draw near to God and find your satisfaction through your relationship with Him. Consider praying three times daily with the intent of drawing near to Him. As you do that, see how long it takes for you to really feel close to God. (Hint: it won’t be long.)