Cornerstone Community Church
The Lost Practice of Fasting
Intro: The Lost Books of the Bible don’t belong there. But there are ‘lost’ passages that do.
Big Idea: Fasting is hungering for more of Jesus and grace.
Context: Jesus is instructing his followers in true spirituality or piety. Piety in the kingdom is done for the Father, not to build a reputation. It is how we seek grace, not how we earn grace.
I. Fasting is a forgotten part of Christian piety.
- Fasting was a regular part of Jewish spirituality (Yom Kippor & Purim).
- Pharisees fasted Mondays & Thursdays. John’s disciples fasted too.
- We think fasting is for the elite (monks) or legalists (Lent). What is fasting about?
- Fasting is voluntary abstinence for spiritual reasons (TV, music, beer, junk food, etc).
- Fasting: a sign of humility before God (Ps. 35; Esther 4; Ezra 8). We need God, not X.
- Israel often humbled themselves in desperate times (invasion, illness, exile).
- Fasting: a sign of repentance (Nehemiah 9; Joel 2). Points to the seriousness of sin.
- Fasting: a sign of grief (Daniel 9). We express the emotional physically.
- Fasting: seeking God’s will (Acts 13 & 14). You are serious enough to fast & pray.
- Fasting: preparation for obedience (Isaiah 58). You experience another’s suffering.
- It’s a reminder of the sufficiency of grace before new projects (Moses & Elijah).
- Fasting: preparation for feasting (Jeremiah 36; Esther 9). Create longing- gratitude.
- Fasting: putting self-indulgence to death. Sinful patterns/idols rise up. Ill. purification
- Sadly, satisfying our appetites becomes more important than seeking satisfaction in God.
- We can then put them to death in the power of the Spirit: pray for Jesus to kill our sin!
Transition: Forgetting fasting has robbed us of a much richer spiritual life.
II. Fast, without advertising your piety. Gasoline is good, if used properly. Dangerous if not.
- Fasting is not a command, but certainly an expectation Jesus had of his followers.
- Fast, keeping any & all medical conditions in mind (migraines, blood sugar).
- Fast realistically- proper expectations & limitations. Ill. Daniel fast, total fast.
- People can know. Ill. Rookie mistake- not telling Amie/not a national secret
- Fast without drawing attention to yourself. Wash & shave. Act normal.
- Drawing attention: turns simple act into a great production. Ill. Superbowl party
- Drawing attention: undermines the Gospel: focuses on what you do not Jesus.
- You may win the praise of people, but not the Father who searches hearts & minds.
Transition: Fasting is dangerous, hardening our hearts, if we use it for the wrong reasons.
III. Fast, trusting God to provide the grace you seek.
- Fast believing Christ has earned the grace we need. Seek what He purchased!
- Christian fasting longs to see the gospel more powerfully at work in us.
- Fasting & prayer often preceded many of the great advances of the gospel (Acts).
- Fasting is not magic, a lever by which we get what we want. Ill. 1990’s
- In Acts we find fasting makes the early church open to what God wanted to do.- Fasting is a means of submitting our flesh, and its agendas, to the will of God.
- The Father who sees what is done in secret sees, and graciously uses us.
Conclusion: Much of Christianity lives as if fasting was to be avoided at all costs. Fasting is a gift of God by which we can express more of what we are feeling. Fasting is a gift of God by which we learn to hunger for more of Him and less for His gifts. Fasting is radical dependence on the immeasurable grace of God. Will you embrace this gift? Will you say, “I want more of You, God”?