“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.” (Matthew 16:16-18, ESV).
If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of individuals, or even entire congregations fasting for 21 days, or something similar. If you haven’t, perhaps you’ll consider it. I believe the benefits are worth it.
The new year is typically a time when churches fast for vision and purpose for the year ahead. Other times, fasting is called for during a challenge when simple prayer seems to be ineffective. One day, Jesus met a man with just such a challenge.
“Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So, I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” (Matthew 17:15-16, NKJV). Incidentally, these are the same disciples who recently returned from the mission field; a trip for which Jesus Himself endorsed and empowered them. There were miracles, the dead were raised, healings, the whole enchilada! And these disciples… well, they were powerless to do anything about it.
Jesus’ response to His disciple’s inability to heal the boy is interesting: “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.” (Matthew 17:17-18, NKJV).
Jesus’ response may seem harsh on the face of it, until we realize what He was conveying: “I came to forgive you, yes, but also to empower you to do what I have been doing!” That is the call of each disciple today. What does this have to do with fasting? Well, like these original disciples, faith leaks, and must be replenished through the Word and prayer.
Life happens! We become distracted in our devotion to the Lord. Fasting helps to restore our faith focus. No matter how powerfully we’ve prayed and believed before, our walk with God cannot rely only on yesterday’s victories, our walk with God must be fresh every day. We must have fresh bread from Heaven, daily.
The disciples asked, ““Why could we not cast it out?” So, Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”” (Matthew 17:19-21, NKJV).
Nothing will be impossible for who? YOU! Fasting empowers our praying. When it seems there simply isn’t enough power to move the mountain, consider fasting. God loves you and cares about everything that concerns you. There is power for you, for breakthrough!
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Rob Granger and his wife, Becky, serve as Executive Pastors of Grace Church San Marcos under Senior Pastors Brian and Melissa Bauer. Located at 855 E. Barham Drive, San Marcos, Grace San Marcos meets at 10 a.m. Sundays and 7:00 p.m. Wednesdays with meetings for youth, children and other groups scheduled throughout the week. Visit www.gracesanmarcos.net for further information.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Times-Advocate.