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Praying and fasting

16 November 2021
‘We fasted and prayed about these concerns. And he listened.’

Several times in the Bible, we read about people praying and fasting. In 2 Samuel 12, David prayed and fasted when his son was ill. When the Jewish people were threatened with annihilation, Esther fasted before visiting the king (see Esther 4:16). Anna the prophetess ‘never left the Temple; day and night she worshipped God, fasting and praying’ (Luke 2:37 GNB). The Bible doesn’t command us to fast. It’s not compulsory, and God certainly isn’t going to reject us or our prayers if we choose not to do it. But the discipline of fasting in a godly way encourages us to say no to our physical needs so that we can focus on our spiritual ones. It’s about putting other things aside for a while so we can keep our minds fixed on God. When we think of fasting, we generally think about going without food. But that isn’t appropriate for everyone to do, and God understands that. So there are other ways we can fast. In Daniel 10 we read: ‘I did not eat any fancy food or meat, or drink any wine, or use any perfumed oil for three weeks’ (v.3 NCV). We might choose to cut out certain foods we enjoy for a few days, or to eat as normal but drink only water. (However, we must always use wisdom when changing our diet in some way. We mustn’t put our health at risk.) We could even give up social media for a while, or if we love reading, we could refuse to read any book other than the Bible. Fasting is a way of showing our devotion to God, and saying that even though there are many things we love, none of them compare to Him. He’s always first in our lives.

What Now?

Could you give something up today (such as watching TV or playing games on your phone) and spend the time with God instead? Or could you swap something, such as your usual music for a worship playlist for the day?

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