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From A Shepherd’s Heart (27 May)

By Ps Ng Liang Wei
As we maintain a prayerful heart, let’s hear from one of our pastors today and reflect on God’s Word from them.

Fasting as a Discipline

I would like to encourage the church to revive the practice of fasting in our personal lives especially as we seek to heighten our sensitivity to God’s message in these tumultuous times.

Matthew 6:16-21

16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

What is fasting in the Christian faith?

We take the time we usually spend on feeding our bodies and invest it in prayer. The text above further indicates that fasting in quietness is seen and rewarded by God. Fasting is a time set aside to petition God and align with Him about matters that matter to Him. The physical hunger reminds us that we are not to be ruled by our appetites in our decisions. Instead, we are ruled by God. It prepares us to lay up treasures in heaven rather than be earth-bound in our perspectives.

Fasting is not trying to twist God’s arm against His Laws. Biblical fasting is not dieting as the goals are purely for godly purposes. Fasting is not meant to show that we are one up spiritually compared to others. It is not meant to draw commendation from others. Instead, fasting is an expression and a physical reminder of our dependence on God. Prayerful fasting is simply paying attention to God, speaking to Him, enjoying His Presence and allowing impulsiveness to drain out from our lives as we seek Him in quietness.

Practical advice

  • Start slow: e.g. skip one meal. Start with solids fast and still take clear fluids.
  • Brush your teeth often when you are fasting to avoid bad breath.
  • Be aware that when you first start fasting, you can feel more hot-tempered. So find a good day especially if you are new to this.
  • Consult your physician prior to starting if you have medical conditions such as Diabetes.
  • Start simply with one sentence prayers. Review the Lord’s prayer if needed.

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