Fasting As A Form of Worship
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Fasting As A Form of Worship

February 5, 2020 | Gregg Caruso
Matthew 6 describes and instructs us in three primary spiritual disciplines (or, rhythms of renewal), and opens by encouraging us not to practice our “acts of righteousness” publicly. If we do, we shall have no reward from our Father in heaven. The three spiritual disciplines are giving, prayer (we are to pray secretly, sincerely, and specifically), and fasting.

Isaiah 58 is probably the best and most concise instruction on the spiritual discipline of fasting in the Bible. Verse 6 lists the four reasons for fasting: 

  1. “To loosen the bonds of wickedness,” 
  2. “To undo the bands of the yoke,” 
  3. “To let the oppressed go free,” and
  4. To “break every yoke.” 
Verses 8-14 contain some amazing promises concerning the fruits, or benefits, of fasting.

In Psalm 35 King David is crying out in agonized intercession to be rescued from his enemies. Part of David’s prayer is that he has humbled his soul with fasting. It is widely believed that our soul consists of our intellect, will, and emotions. According to Matthew 6, Isaiah 58, and Psalm 35 the overall objective of fasting is to humble our soul (or to cause our intellect, will, and emotions to bow down) so that the desires and the purposes of God can become more prominent. When we deny our appetites and soulish longings and turn to the Lord through worship, supplication, and intercession there is a supernatural grace that is released upon us. The idea is to set aside regular times during a fast in order to seek the Lord and cry out for His will to be done and for the fulfillment of His promises.

“God delights in revealing Himself to those who are bold enough to bother Him.” –David Platt


A simple definition of fasting would be voluntary abstinence of our appetites and our soulish longings for spiritual reasons. The Bible speaks of it not as an option but as an expected ongoing spiritual discipline. The following are some of the purposes for fasting; these also convey some of the benefits of fasting:

  1. Fasting will sharpen our focus in prayer. (After we get beyond the initial discomfort caused by our various addictions such as caffeine, sugar, etc.)
  2. Fasting will cause us to be more sensitive to God’s guidance in our lives.
  3. Fasting is a sign of godly sorrow and repentance and expresses to God our desire to be responsively obedient to His will and direction for our lives.
  4. It was common in biblical times to fast when the need for protection and/or deliverance was great. An excellent example is when Queen Esther called for her people to fast with her when she appealed to the king to spare the Jews (see Esther 4:16).
  5. As David articulated in Psalm 35, fasting can be an expression of humility before God.
  6. Fasting, or the servant-leaders calling for a fast, can be the result of God’s people seeing a need and expressing their concern. When Nehemiah heard about the great distress, reproach, and the broken-down walls in Jerusalem the Bible tells us that he sat down and wept and mourned for days, and then fasted and prayed (see Nehemiah 1:3-4).
  7. When Jesus fasted for forty days in the wilderness after His baptism He was strengthened spiritually against the strong temptations of Satan. In fact, in Luke 4:14 it says that “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit.”
  8. Fasting can be simply an act of worship and adoration with no other purpose than to bring glory to God.
There are many different ways to fast. We can fast food and just drink water or juice, we can eat vegetables or fruit only (see Daniel 1:8-17), we can choose not to eat any sugar or desserts for a specific period of time, we can fast one or two meals a day, we can fast from sun-up to sun-down. Paul encourages married couples to occasionally fast sexual intercourse, “that you may devote yourselves to prayer…” (1 Corinthians 7:5). We can fast television, the internet, and/or social media and pray instead. Before we fast it is important to seek the Lord regarding what would be appropriate. And don’t forget to involve your children in some way…
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