What is Fasting?

In the previous post we started looking at the idea of fasting, and we looked at 4 things which fasting isn’t. Now that we have cleared up some of the common misconceptions about fasting, I want to start to look at what it actually is and why we should do it. 

Let me start with the final point from yesterday, fasting is not an attempt to get God to respond to us, but an attempt at us responding to God. What on earth do I mean by this and where did I get this idea?!

Romans 12:1 says “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.”

Let’s take a look at this verse in a bit more detail. 

I like to split the book of Romans into 3 sections. In chapters 1-3 we see Paul describing the terrible condition that sin has left us in and how we are so far from God. In chapter 3:23 he says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

In chapters 4-11 Paul describes what God did about it, His mercy and grace, how released us from the debt of sin through the death of His son Jesus and freely gave us a new start through the resurrection of Jesus. In chapter 4:25 Paul says “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”. When I hear the word justified I remember it’s meaning as just as if I’d never sinned!

Then in chapters 12-16 we see Paul discuss what the response of a Christian should be. He begins our key verse by saying “Therefore….in view of God’s mercy”, with this statement he is drawing our attention to everything he has just written. Remember your sin, remember your failures, remember where you were. Remember, then, what God did for you. Remember His Son, His death which paid for your sins and His resurrection which brings you new life. In view of this…..

Paul then carries on with what we should do “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God”. I love how Eugene Peterson translates what a living sacrifice is in The Message “Take your everyday, ordinary life- your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering.”. 

So Paul is suggesting to us that as we remember our sin and as we remember our saviour, let us take our lives and place them before God. Every part of our lives, even the mundane, everyday things. 

Why?

Look at the last words he says in verse 1; “this is your true and proper worship”. The Greek word Paul used here is logikos which literally means rational, logical. So, when we remember our sin and our Saviour our logical response should be to offer ourselves to him, every single part of our lives and our bodies should be offered to Him in worship. Any other response is illogical!

What does this have to do with fasting?

Our stomachs are one of the things which have the most control over us, we are constantly reminded of when we are hungry and in need of food. Self control with regards to food is, I am sure, one of most people’s weakest areas! By fasting we are offering a key part of our everyday life to God in worship. We are saying to God “I am turning away from the voice of my stomach today, so that I may turn for your voice”.

See, fasting is not about us attempting to get God to respond to us, but it is about us responding to God in a logical way.