Fasting: Leverage or Lifestyle?

Focus 40Day 4

In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. —Acts 13:1–3 NIV

Why were these leaders of the church in Antioch fasting? We’re told the results of their fast, but we’re never told the reason. I believe we’re not told because they are not fasting about anything; they are fasting because it is part of what they do—it is a part of the rhythm of their life. I had always assumed that fasting was a means to an end. People fasted because they needed an answer to a question or a solution to a problem. I would guess that most of our prayer and fasting is done to attempt to bring God’s resources to bear on the issues and circumstances we deem important. They are tools of leverage.

These men were just fasting. No agenda.Christian tradition tells us we fast for two reasons: (1) to remind us of our dependence on God for provision and (2) to set aside a our focus on our own needs to pay attention to God—to place ourselves at God’s disposal.As these men were worshiping and fasting, the Holy Spirit spoke to them. If they hadn’tbeen listening. we might not have the legacy of Paul’s missionary efforts. If they had not placed themselves at God’s disposal, we might be missing half of our New Testament. If they had been fasting to leverage God to cosign their next great idea instead of exercising a lifestyle of fasting to listen to what God has to say, church history may have turned out much differently. Is fasting a part the rhythm of your life? If not, you may be missing out on some amazing things that God wants to tell you and show you.

Father, forgive us for making even our spiritual exercises and disciplines all about us. Help us to learn to wait, listen, and hear. Help us to come into your presence to seek your face and not just the work of your hands.

– Pastor Bruce Steffensen, Interim Pastor, Holiday Park Church of God, Portland, Oregon

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