Like many other practices that carried over from the Old to New Testament, there is a distinction between the primary purpose for fasting prior to and after the ministry of Jesus.
It’s all too common for us to hear people mention things that were done under the Old Covenant (with a connotation that those things) need not to be done under the New Covenant. And in certain cases that’s true. But in the case of fasting, the practice has not been done away with; the purpose has changed.
Under the Old Covenant fasting was largely utilized as a form of repentance. It was an outward punishing of one’s flesh for its ungodly desires. Israel would call national or regional fasts as a form of inflicting self-harm in order to prove to God they were penitent and remorseful for their sin. (1 Kings 21:9-12, Jeremiah 36:9, Jonah 3:5, Ezra 8:21)
We even find this traditional way of thinking, regarding fasting, in the Gospels. Jesus taught on fasting in Matthew 6, saying, “When you fast, be not, as the hypocrites, with a sad countenance: they disfigure their faces, to appear before men as fasting…” Notice that context of fasting at this period of time; while fasting, a sad countenance was expected. Throughout the Old Testament a fast would be accompanied by mourning, sackcloth, and ashes. But here in Matthew 6, Jesus is transforming the purpose of a fast. Jesus continues, “But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face. So that you don’t appear to be fasting (in the traditional sense of mourning) and your Father, which sees in secret, shall REWARD openly.”
This concept of a reward, of reciprocation from the Father in regard to fasting, was revolutionary. In a few short statements, Jesus directly reverses the use of fasting; and He does so to the benefit of the worshipper.
Personal Prayer Point:
Pray, today, for a mighty grace to empower you to finish this fast strong. That this would be the most fruitful fast you’ve ever participated in. That you would see tangible, traceable answers to your requests.
Scripture to Stand On:
Corporate Prayer Point:
Ask The Lord for the Inland Empire. Believing together for a mighty revival of His people by the outpouring of miracles. Ask Him for the harvest of souls. That multitudes of men, and women, and children would experience His saving grace through the preaching of the Gospel. And that this move of God would begin this year!
Scripture to Stand On:
(Psalm 2:8 — Isaiah 65:1)