Generally speaking, fasting is a rare practice among evangelicals. The Barna Research reveals that people of other religion are interested in fasting more than born again Christians. What does the Bible teaches on fasting? Is fasting necessary?
The fasting in the Bible is recorded both as an individual as well as a corporate discipline. We read in Dan 9:3, Luke 2:36-37, and in Matt 4:1-2, that the fasting was practiced individually. On the other hand, we also read in Jer 36:9 and Jonah 3:7, and several other references that the fasting was also practiced as a community discipline.
However, both individual as well as community fasting is subject to human manipulation. In Matt 6:16-18, Jesus cautioned those who were fasting with wrong motives. With all good intention, some time Churches have failed to prepare their congregation.
We must remember that the scripture warns us against any legalistic practice of self-denial religion. We have abandoned the discipline of fasting. We do not talk about fasting at all. We left the fasting in the hands of those who are doctrinally imbalanced.
Be that as it may be, abandoning the practice of fasting is unbiblical. In Joel 2:12-14, Yahweh himself recommends to fast. Fasting is an expression of the sincerity of our repentance. Itís a sign of our true submission to the sovereign Power of God. We also read in the Bible that the people of God observed fasting to seek an urgent intervention of God (Est 3:13-4:3, Jonah 3:7, Ps 35:13, Ps 109:21-25). Fasting is also way to seek Godís guidance (Acts 13:2-3).
In Is 58:3-8, the Scripture cautions us that a merely fasting is not enough. Fasting demands transformed moral behavior. In our fasting, the righteousness of God must be manifested through our life. The love for justice, care for the widow, orphan, and poorest of the poor in our society must accompany our fasting. Our character must be in line with the attributes of God before whom we resolve to fast. Our social behavior must bring glory to God in our daily life.
May God help us to enjoy the discipline of fasting.