Bible Study, Food, Health

When You Fast

When You Fast - Ruth O'Reilly-Smith

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Acts 13:1-3, Matthew 6:16-18

Intermittent fasting is currently one of the world’s most popular health trends. People use the eating pattern to lose weight and improve health, with studies showing that it can have a powerful effect on the body and brain and potentially increase lifespan.

Not everyone is able to go without food for an extended period of time, but fasting does appear a number of times in the Bible and in Acts 13:1-3 it’s mentioned twice.

“Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of 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.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.”

Acts 13:1-3

What do you do when you fast?

If you fast for spiritual or health reasons or both, you may find that all you can think about is food and if you choose to fast something else, you’ll probably also catch yourself constantly thinking about the one thing you’re trying to steer clear of for a defined period.

Whatever your reason for fasting, you will quickly become disheartened if you don’t invite God into the process.

Jesus challenges us to check our motives.

He teaches on fasting just after he’s shown us how to pray. He tells us not to look gloomy like the hypocrites who disfigure their faces so that their fasting is noticed by others. Rather, we should look fresh-faced and fast in secret so that it’s only seen by God (Mathew 6:16-18).

I enjoy food and I love fasting, but only if it’s underpinned by a focus on God through worship and prayer as those in the church in Antioch did. When my motives are right, the Holy Spirit gives me the ability to thrive while fasting. My mind is sharper and I’m more spiritually attuned to God’s will. This doesn’t mean I walk around singing hymns with my head bowed in prayer all day. I go about my normal, busy day but I do make time before I get out of bed to read the Bible, pray and thank God for his goodness and then I remain intentional about having a constant dialogue with God, bringing Him into every part of my day with a grateful heart.

So, when you fast, check your motives; keep it between you and God, make Him your focus and pray and worship throughout. This way you’ll enjoy the health and spiritual benefits of fasting.

© 2021 by Ruth O’Reilly-Smith

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