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9 Ways to Worship Jesus through Fasting
And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Fasting is a common practice in the church, but ultimately, it’s between you and Jesus. It can be eye-opening, awe-inspiring, and life-changing. Here are nine ways we see people worship Jesus through fasting in the Bible.
1. To Strengthen Our Prayers
Fasting does not change God’s hearing or doing as much as it changes our prayers. We devote our thoughts and desires towards God in prayer. Nehemiah “continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven” (Neh. 1:4). Daniel devoted himself to plead with God “by prayer and petition, in fasting” (Dan. 9:3 NIV). The church in Antioch in Acts 13:3, “after fasting and praying they laid their hands on [Paul and Barnabas] and sent them off” on the first missionary journey.
2. To Seek God’s Guidance
Eleven tribes of Israel prepared for war against the tribe of Benjamin and lost two battles and 22,000 men. They sought the Lord before each battle, but the third time they prepared for war they sought the Lord with prayer and tears and they also “fasted that day until evening” (Judges 20:26). Only after they sought God with fasting did the Lord give Israel the victory.
Paul and Barnabas also first prayed and fasted to receive God’s guidance on selecting elders for the new churches in Acts 14:23.
3. To Express Grief
When King Saul was killed by the Philistines in 1 Samuel 31:13 the people mourned when they “fasted seven days.” Christians have also fasted because of grief for their sins. Jonathan according to 1 Samuel 20:34 was grieved that his father King Saul was trying unjustly to kill David, that he “ate no food for the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, because his father had disgraced him.”
4. To Seek Deliverance or Protection
Queen Esther appealed to God for protection from the king’s wrath on her people in Esther 4:16. She called on her uncle, Mordecai, to gather all the Jews who were in Susa and fast. This was a corporate fast.
5. To Express Repentance and the Return to God
In 1 Samuel 7:6, all of Israel gathered and “drew water and poured it out before the Lord and fasted on that day and said there, ‘We have sinned against the LORD.’”
In Joel 2:12, the Lord specifically commanded his people to signify their repentance and their return to him by fasting; “‘Yet even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.’”
After God sends Jonah to preach repentance to the city of Nineveh, we see in Jonah 3 that the Ninevites hear the message, believe God, are convicted, and in response, declare a fast to call out urgently on God.
6. To Humble Oneself Before God
7. To Express Concern for the Work of God
Nehemiah 1:3–4 speaks of Nehemiah hearing about the wall of Jerusalem being broken down and has no defense, he cried out, prayed, and fasted. After his fast, Nehemiah then went to work to do something tangible and public to strengthen this work of God.
8. To Overcome Temptation and Dedicate Yourself to God
During Christ’s fast in Matthew 4:1–11, he privately dedicated himself to the Father for his public ministry and Satan came to tempt him. Fully God and fully man, Jesus resisted Satan’s temptations as he fasted.
9. To Express Love and Worship to God
Anna in Luke 2:37: “She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.”
If God has put it on your heart to fast, pray for a worshipful posture. Resist the temptation to be prideful or think more highly of yourself than you ought.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Above all, the goal of fasting is to enjoy God, as his grace enables.