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”
It was during their worship time that the Holy Spirit spoke. But it was also a time of fasting, an activity that we struggle to keep as part of our lifestyle.
I don’t know about you, but there have been times when I’ve fasted and it has been a miserable experience, and the only thing I’ve been is hungry. Not empowered, refreshed, changed, challenged, but just hungry. And that’s because I hadn’t got to grips with what fasting was actually about. It’s so much more than just not eating. God wouldn’t ask us to not eat just for the sake of it, he asked us because he knew the hidden aspects of fasting.
It is essential that when a person decides to fast they recognise why it is that they are doing so. If there is no recognition as to the impact that fasting should have on the individual involved then fasting is merely an empty ritual without results. It is important to understand that fasting should change the person, not God.
Fasting must be centred on God. It is not a means to get our own way, to somehow manipulate God to do what we want. If our focus is on the benefits of fasting we have missed the point.
Fasting is not a way to earn favour with God, to impress God or to earn his acceptance, for acceptance is given through the work of Jesus Christ not our works.
God is always longing for us to discover a new level of intimacy with him, and because of this our hearts must be cleansed in order for this to happen.
Fasting will also identify to the ‘faster’ the things in their life that controls them, for example, pride or anger.
We cover up so much of our lives with things, whether that be food, hobbies or any ‘good thing’, it’s not until I give up drinking coffee that I realize how much I live for it. Or give up watching tv for a few days, that I realize how unfulfilled I am. It amazes me. When God says that he is enough, he fulfils us.
We are often unaware of being controlled, but fasting brings those things to the forefront, so that they can then be dealt with.
Fasting is a reminder to the Christian that our dependence is on God alone and not on food or the thing we happen to be fasting, that it is God who sustains us. Fasting unto God therefore is feasting – feasting on him and on doing his will. Fasting also helps us to recognise that the nonessentials really are nonessentials. So often they can take over our lives; fasting helps to maintain balance again.
So don’t look at this verse and think in order to hear God you should fast. Rather in order to worship God you should fast. That is the balance we need. Maybe if that was in place and we didn’t do things for things we would hear more from Him.