This week we talked about fasting (Matthew 6:16-18). This is an interesting topic given the drastically different understanding we have of fasting compared to how it was practiced and understood in Jesus’ time.
First we discussed examples of how fasting was used in scripture to get a holistic understanding of what exactly it is. The key verse that we settled on was Matthew 9 when John’s disciples come to Jesus to ask him about fasting. From this interaction we find that fasting was a common and frequent practice of all serious religious or spiritual people. Thus, when Jesus and his disciples did not fast, it was seen as something exceptional. And Jesus himself agreed with them that fasting ought to be a normal part of a believer’s life.
This section in Matthew 6 concludes the middle section of the Sermon on the Mount which is all about spiritual disciplines and “practicing our righteousness”. Fasting is one of 3 essential spiritual disciplines that Jesus assumes all real disciples will engage in – giving, prayer, fasting. We cannot expect to live a mature Christian life apart from these three disciplines being a regular practice in our lives. Fasting is just as essential to spiritual growth and sincerity as prayer and giving.
Encourage your kids to adopt a lifestyle of fasting and to love the lord with their bodies. Help them set a plan for practicing these disciplines and pray with them after to help them engage with God and discuss their experiences.
My prayer is that a hunger for God would arise in the kids so that they would see fasting as an amazing tool for acceleration, power, and increased intimacy with God.