Should I Fast?

Focus 40Day 22

When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”  —Matthew 6:17–18 NIV

Several years ago my youngest son was serving on staff at a church. Each January the lead pastor of
this church had his staff do a twenty-one-day fast. Brent shared some of his experiences and I
decided to give it a try the next year. I must confess I think my motivation was more competition
than spiritual hunger. Our motivation for fasting is critical. If we only want to shed a few pounds,
the fast is a diet, not a spiritual renewal. If it is not important to you, it will not impact the heart of
God. I am not sure that first fast meant much to me or to God.

The next year I was in a very troubling time in my ministry and I needed to hear from God.
My decision to fast was out of a hunger to know God and his direction for my life. Normally when I
am hungry, I think of food: 5 Guys, Olive Garden, and Chili’s come to mind. This time I chose to
focus on my desire for God when the hunger came. It was a totally different experience. Did I get
physically hungry? I felt a lot of hunger the first three days, but the intensity of that sensation waned
after the initial shock to my body. The toughest part of fasting to me was the fact that most of our
social activities revolve around food. I am a people person, yet I found myself avoiding some of
those situations with people saying, “You have to taste this pie!” The time apart from the crowd
helped me focus on God and his will for my life.

I found the greatest blessing from fasting to be the quieting of my soul. I watched less
television, since every ten minutes they advertised pizza. I read more, prayed more, and gained some
clarity and perspective. That is not a bad trade for a few meals. Throughout the Bible we find
examples of people fasting. Jesus said that when he left this earth, his disciples would fast. Should
you fast? That depends on your motivation. If you desire more of God, a deeper walk, a clearer
path, then I believe God will honor your efforts with his amazing presence.

Father, I am fasting because I want more of you. I know there is nothing I can do to impress you, but I want this
fasting time to be a time of coming to quiet my soul and listening to your voice. Help me to come to clarity concerning
your purpose and desire for my life. I am available and I am listening.

-Rev. Steve Birch, Pastor, White Chapel Church of God, South Daytona, Florida

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