November 01, 2009
One of the challenges that one has in the Moravian Church when something new or different is introduced is the comment that, “This is not Moravian”. The questions that really should be asked are, “Is this Biblically based? Is it of God?” If it is Biblically based and if it is of God then it has to be Moravian.
Fasting is a Spiritual discipline ordained by God for the good of the Christian Fellowship. The idea of Fasting is the voluntary denial of an otherwise normal function for the sake of intense spiritual activity. Throughout Scripture, fasting refers to abstaining from food for spiritual purposes. It is therefore distinct from a hunger strike, the purpose of which is to gain political power or to attract attention to a good cause. It is distinct from health dieting which stresses abstinence from food for physical, not spiritual purposes. It is also distinct from the obsession to become slim and trim by means of voluntary starvation.
It is sobering to realize that the very first statement Jesus made about Fasting dealt with the question of motive. In Matthew 6: 16-18, Jesus said, “When you fast, do not be like the hypocrites who show that they are fasting”. To use good things to our own ends is always a sign of false religion. Paul says, “I pommel my body and subdue it” (1 Cor. 9:27). Likewise David says, “I afflicted myself with fasting” (Ps. 35: 13). This is discipline and discipline brings freedom.
Fasting must forever centre on God. It must be God initiated. Like the Apostolic band at Antioch, Fasting and Worshipping the Lord must be said in the same breath. When one Fasts therefore, he/she is serving God. God questioned the people of Zechariah’s day, “…When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?” If our fasting is not unto God, we have failed. Physical benefits, success in prayer, the enduring with power, spiritual insights and the like, must never replace God as the centre of our fasting.
Fasting reminds us that we are sustained by “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”. (Matt. 4:4). Food does not sustain us. In Christ, all things hold together (Col. 1:17).Therefore, in experiences of Fasting, we are not so much abstaining from food as we are feasting on the word of God. When the Disciples brought lunch to Jesus, assuming that he would be hungry, he said to them, “I have food to eat which you do not know. My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work” (John 4: 32 & 34). This was not a clever metaphor, but a genuine reality. Jesus was in fact being nourished and sustained by the power of God.
Every child of God needs to engage in the discipline of fasting from time to time. Fasting is not only Moravian, it is biblical, God ordained and God centred. The list of Biblical figures who fasted ought to be instructive for the child of God. Moses the Lawgiver fasted. David the King fasted. Elijah the Prophet fasted. Paul the Apostle fasted. Jesus Christ the Incarnate Son of God fasted. Fasting helps us to keep our balance in life.