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Fasting - It's All the Rage

Fasting Faithfulness Spiritual Health

Source: Britanica, "Fasting," Retrieved 2/17/24 and Medicinenet.com

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Marcelle Smith | Date Posted: 2024-02-18

Scripture: Joel 2:12 ; Ezra 8:23

Author: Marcelle Smith
4

ILLUSTRATION

In the health and wellness industry, fasting has become all the rage. Articles and videos on everthing from intermittent fasting for 8, 12, or even 24 hours per day, up to 40 day "cleasing" fasts, and everything in between fill the internet search engines. 

Britannica defines fasting as:

[A]bstinence from food or drink or both for health, ritualistic, religious, or ethical purposes. The abstention may be complete or partial, lengthy, of short duration, or intermittent. Fasting has been promoted and practiced from antiquity worldwide by physicians, by the founders and followers of many religions, by culturally designated individuals (e.g., hunters or candidates for initiation rites), and by individuals or groups as an expression of protest against what they believe are violations of social, ethical, or political principles. [It] has been used therapeutically since at least the 5th century BCE, when Greek physician Hippocrates recommended abstinence from food or drink for patients who exhibited certain symptoms of illness.


Scientifically, fasting is defined as a period of partial or total restriction from all foods or selected foods. as part of a dieting regimen for weight loss or improved health.

The American Heart Association states that regular fasting is associated with lower rates of heart failure and improved metabolism, thus possibly making it the key to a long, healthy life. If done correctly, it can have many of the following health benefits: decreased resting heart rate, decreased blood pressure, better blood flow, lower levels of bad cholesterol, assistance with weight loss, decreased inflammation, improved blood sugar regulation, better responses to stress, slowing down of aging, prevention of diabetes, thyroid disorders, hypertension, and heart disease, and more!

Biblically speaking, fasting means the voluntary abstention from food for a prescribed period as a sign of devotion. 

APPLICATION

Clearly, from the list above, one could conclude that our bodies were created to naturally respond to periods of fasting and voluntarily deprivation.

So, too, are our spirits. Scripture is replete with examples and exhortations, to cite just a few:

Matthew 6:16-18 ESV 
“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.

Joel 2:12 ESV 
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;

Daniel 10:3 ESV 
I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks.

Ezra 8:23 ESV 
So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.

Isaiah 58:6 ESV 
“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?

Acts 13:2 ESV 
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.”

Acts 14:23 ESV 
And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

Exodus 34:28 ESV 
So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

Esther 4:16 ESV 
“Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”

Luke 2:37 ESV 
And then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.

Psalm 35:13 ESV 
But I, when they were sick— I wore sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting; I prayed with head bowed on my chest.

Luke 4:2 ESV 
For forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.

Fasting helps us get closer to the Lord, hear His voice, and discern His direction(s) for our lives by the removal of distractions and noise, as well as helping us focus on Him more than other parts of His Creation, including (but not exclusively) food.

 

 

Fast From, Feast On

Lent Fasting Christlikeness

Source: "Fast From-Feast On" by William Arthur Ward

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2015-03-10

Scripture: Matthew 6:16

Author: William Arthur Ward / Illustration Exchange
7

ILLUSTRATION

A Lenton Prayer:

Fast from judging others; Feast on the Christ dwelling in them.
Fast from emphasis on differences; Feast on the unity of life.
Fast from apparent darkness; Feast on the reality of light.
Fast from thoughts of illness; Feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute; Feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent; Feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger; Feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; Feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; Feast on divine order.
Fast from complaining; Feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives; Feast on affirmatives.
Fast from unrelenting pressures; Feast on unceasing prayer.
Fast from hostility; Feast on non-resistance.
Fast from bitterness; Feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; Feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety; Feast on eternal truth.
Fast from discouragements; Feast on hope.
Fast from facts that depress; Feast on verities that uplift.
Fast from lethargy; Feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; Feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from shadows of sorrow; Feast on the sunlight of serenity.
Fast from idle gossip; Feast on purposeful silence.
Fast from problems that overwhelm; Feast on prayer that strengthens.

William Arthur Ward (1921-1994), American author, teacher and pastor.

APPLICATION

As we celebrate the Lenten season, let us focus our fasting less on material sacrifices (like candies or colas) and more on the inward sacrifices of the heart which will serve to mold us ever more into the image of the One whose desert experience we emulate.

“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 6:16-18, ESV).

Illustration Exchange

Hyenas Fast for Lent?

Fasting Devotion Lent

Source: "Hyenas Hunt In Ethiopia When Lent Makes Scavenging Impossible" By: Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer, Published: 04/04/2012 on LiveScience, Huffington Post

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2013-03-18

Scripture: Colossians 3:7

Author: Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience
2

ILLUSTRATION

Ever wondered how your practice of Christian devotion affect others? LiveScience Senior Writer, Stephanie Pappas reports that for some Ethiopian Christians, their practices of Lenten devotion don't just affect other humans. She writes:

Humans aren't the only ones who give up certain foods for Lent. In the 55 days before Easter in Ethiopia, hyenas are forced to turn from scavenging to hunting to make up for Christians' fasting traditions.

Members of the Orthodox Tewahedo Church give up meat and dairy during the Lent period in Ethiopia. Now, a new study of hyena droppings finds that local hyenas, deprived of butcher scraps during this time period, supplement their diets by hunting donkeys for food instead. ...

APPLICATION

Ok, so most of us don't aspire to affect the eating practices of hyenas. But we can be sure that our acts of devotion don't just affect ourselves, but others around us. If we fast from anger, bitterness, malice, envy, greed, gossip, or any other sinful attitude or behavior, those with whom we have relationship also end up fasting from the negative effects of such attitudes and actions. We pass the fast on down the spiritual food chain. In the end, we are all the better for it!

"In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth" (Colossians 3:7-8, ESV).

Illustration Exchange

Hungry for God

Fasting Spiritual Growth Zeal

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2012-03-06

Scripture: Matthew 5:6

Author: Ben Patterson
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Fasting Enhances Feasting

Fasting Perspective Self-control

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2011-07-11

Author: Victor M. Parachin
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All Creation Has A Song

Worship Praise Creation/Creationism

Contributed By: Marcelle Smith | Date Posted: 2024-04-24

Scripture: Psalms 66:4 ; Psalms 95:1

Author: Marcelle Smith
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The Crew Behind the Counter

Community Servanthood Humility

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2023-11-28

Scripture: Romans 12:4 ; Philippians 2:4

Author: Illustration Exchange
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The Sacrificial Heart of Shlomo Ron

Love (Divine) Sacrifice Preparation

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2023-10-21

Scripture: John 15:13

Author: Yael Bar Tur
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Know What You Are For

Gospel Sacrifice Commitment

Contributed By: Marcelle Smith | Date Posted: 2023-06-22

Scripture: Romans 14:8 ; Romans 14:8

Author: Marcelle Smith
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A Hymn for Everyone

Music Humor Worship

Contributed By: Brenton Pears | Date Posted: 2023-03-17

Scripture: Ephesians 5:19 ; Psalms 104:33

Author: Unknown
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