The Benefits of Fasting Pt. 1 [Living a Fasted Life Pt. 2]
Last time, we looked at the reasons why you should fast and we decided on 7 main reasons for fasting (as laid out by Isaiah 58):
1) To break strongholds
2) To deliver from habits (untie the ropes)
3) To free the oppressed
4) To liberate the burdened
5) So we can share The Word
7) Reconciliation with one another
Reading Isaiah 58 very carefully exposes some very interesting covenants that every Christian can tap into through their fasting. Will you fast in vain or will fast to your benefit? Let’s look at the first 3 covenants that await you as you engage chapter & verse with understanding alongside any fasting period:
“Isn’t the fast I choose:
To break the chains of wickedness,…“
You know somethings that are very underrated? How much God loves the underdog and how much He can’t stand those who insist on working in wickedness. Consistently throughout the Bible (Old & New Testament), you see God taking the reckoning with the wicked very personally – from Pharaoh in Egypt, the inhabitants of Canaan to the all out war with the devil and his people.
So, what happens when we fast to break some chains?
Then your light will appear like the dawn,
and your recovery will come quickly. (vs. 8 – HCSB)
For those of you familiar with Chapter & Verse, this may ring a bell along the lines of Proverbs 4:18:
But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
which shines brighter and brighter until full day. (ESV)
See the juxtaposition of the righteous to the wicked? Fasting brings out the righteousness of God in us and the righteousness [right standing with God] of God helps us to overcome wickedness and the reward of that righteousness? – a blessing of our endeavours and the assurance of the path that we have taken to lead to bigger and better things.
As we stay faithful in this righteousness, we also have the additional benefit of delivering healing to our environment and situations (see Proverbs 13:17).
KICKING THE HABIT (#2):
“…to untie the ropes of the yoke,…“
Fasting is a very good way of kicking the proverbial habit, whatever that may be for you. We already know that the flesh and the spirit are not in accord, in fact, they are at war with one another (Galatians 5:17). When we fast, we are in a great position to loose any bonds that keep us down – anything that is preventing our spirit from connecting with God, the things we struggle against [daily]. When we fast with this in mind, God has promised us the following:
Your righteousness will go before you,
and the Lord’s glory will be your rear guard. (vs. 8 – HCSB)
This is a very interesting covenant because there are two things that happen here when we are able to kick our habits: our righteousness goes before us & the Lord becomes our rear guard. Looking at Isaiah 52:12, we see a promise of peace and stability in our situations:
For you will not leave in a hurry,
and you will not have to take flight;
because the Lord is going before you,
and the God of Israel is your rear guard. (Isaiah 52:12 – HCSB)
When we are able to conquer the flesh, the righteousness of God [in us] settles all things around us – there is no need to run around, to be frantic or to be concerned that our situation or circumstance will dominate us. Not only that, it also puts God in an interesting position for us – a defensive position, that is to say, He becomes our “rearguard”.
With God in this position on our behalf, He makes sure that when we are in danger of being overwhelmed, or our situation is about to change to our detriment, He will mobilise tactics to make sure we are safe. When these are in place, security is guaranteed – your [breastplate of] righteousness guards oncoming attacks and The Lord himself is a preventative force of sudden change to His status quo – how incredible is that?!
FREEDOM FIGHTING (#3):
“to set the oppressed free…“
Ah yes, the oppressed – remember how I said that we underestimate how much God loves the underdog? Yeah, this is a big stickler with Him. If we can focus our attention externally on those who are oppressed, for the purpose of seeing them free, we can engage God in a very unique and deeply personal way.
If you carefully review the Bible you’ll notice that from the outset, God has always been interested in our oppression. It is one of the key drivers that causes Him to move on our behalf. From the cries from the Israelites in Egypt (Exodus 3:7) to the way he looks after the fatherless, widows and the disadvantaged, God cares about those who are oppressed… a lot!
When we fast with the oppressed [and their liberation] in mind, we activate a covenant practice with God which I am sure will interest many, if not all of us:
At that time, when you call, the Lord will answer;
when you cry out, He will say, ‘Here I am.’ (Isaiah 58:9 – HCSB)
I wonder how many of us would not like God to answer us when we cry out to Him. By focusing our fasting effort externally and making God’s agenda ours, we tap into possibly every Christian’s heart desire – to be heard by God. If you have every wanted God to hear you, here is a sure way of securing that relationship.
Even Jesus showed us His compassion heart for the oppressed in many scriptures (for example, Matthew 8:16). There is nothing that can turn a person’s life around like when God answers them in their time of need. There are few things that can engage God to turn His face toward you like taking up His agenda and making it your own.
We will look at the remaining 4 benefits that God has promised to us when we fast in the right way next week.
I really hope that this has convinced you of the fact but in the event that you are not yet sold, I want you to remember that God is rooting for you and waiting to help you – He wants you to win!!