What is a Biblical view of Fasting today?
Dear Pastor Vergunst, What is your/a biblical view of fasting today, particularly before the Lord's Supper is to be held?
Fasting is ignored too much in our days. When is the last time you heard a sermon about it or a reference to it in a sermon? Yet when we read the Scriptures, it is referred to abundantly. In the same chapter that the Lord Jesus spoke about prayer and almsgiving, He spoke about fasting (Matt. 6). The same warnings are given about all three activities but we don't conclude that praying and almsgiving should be omitted because it can so easily be done without a heart for the matter. Yet we tend to make this unspoken conclusion about fasting.
Fasting is done in the Bible in a wide variety of ways. But true fasting has the same intention: it is an earnest addition to an expressed need before God. In other words, the matter which you are bringing before God is so weighty and important to you that you are adding a fast to it to indicate how weighty this matter is. That's one of the main purposes of fasting. It is not meritorious because like all we do, it is as a filthy rag in God's sight. But through my fast I am telling the Lord, "Lord, this is so important to me that I am willing to give up my food and drink to bring this need before Thee." If you take your Bible and check all the references to fasting then you will come to the same conclusion that it was always added to prayer.
Another benefit of fasting is that you will often be reminded to pray about the matter. You body will send signals that there is need of food or drink. This works as a physical reminder to come before the Lord in prayer. Let's say there is a particular need bound on your heart but you are having a busy day ahead where you will be so often distracted, fasting will help you to pray about it during the day as your body keeps sending you a message. Please, know your own limits. Some people get real faint when they fast and feel too weak or jittery to do anything. That usually indicates an addiction to sugar in healthy people. So it may take some re-training your body to be able to fast for a length of time without feeling physically weak.
You specifically asked about fasting in connection with the Lord's Supper. I think fasting could be a very good way in time of preparation. The prayer we ask the Lord is that He will search us and show whether there are any sins that need to be repented of. Or perhaps you have great struggles to know whether the Lord has worked in your heart and whether you are permitted to make use of the sacrament. Setting aside a time of prayer and fasting to bring these matters before the Lord is very valuable.
May the Lord revive us more and more so that God's people also begin to feel the need for fasting again. We talk much about the great needs of our day and age. But besides talk, not much else is happening. Are we really that sincere when we sigh about these matters? Are we willing to deny ourselves the comforts as we wrestle before God? Where are the Anna's who departed not from the temple with prayer and fasting? Where are the Daniel's who fasted from the dainties to devote himself to prayer?