>Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do.” Esther 4:15-16

Fasting is often misunderstood, and sometimes is unwelcomed. Most people who fast are preparing for some sort of surgical procedure. To be honest, that’s not a great association. They deny themselves in order to undergo something rather unpleasant. That’s not much of a reward.

In Christian circles fasting is one of those things that people tend to use to amp up their prayer. When prayer alone won’t do the job, they will fast and pray. Now they’re serious.

Don’t get me wrong. We need to be serious about prayer and connecting with God. But, a lot of the fasting that I’ve witnessed seems more like a hunger strike. “I won’t eat until God answers my prayer.” Well, if God answered with “wait,” they’ll be fasting for a while.

If one person’s fast didn’t achieve the answer that they desired, then fellow believers would join in. Their collective fasting and praying would forcefully move the hand of God, or so they think. This seems more like a protest than intercession. God is sovereign. It’s not our place to attempt to move His hand. It’s our place to obey.

Jesus did tell us that some things can only be accomplished through prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29 – Most modern translations, however, put “fasting” in a footnote). But, God is not the one who needs the prayer and fasting. We do.

Fasting offers an opportunity to connect with God. The time that we would spend eating is devoted to prayer. In this time of conversation, yes, speaking and listening, we set aside a time when normally we would provide for ourselves. We seek God’s provision instead.

Fasting is a means of discerning God’s will. The task is not to change God’s mind, but to obtain the mind of God about the issue (Joel 2:12). It’s not forcing God to fall in line with our plans, but to align ourselves with God’s plan. When we are moving in God’s direction, it’s amazing how much will actually go our way.

The byproduct of fasting is benevolence. The money that we save from avoiding meals can be given to the poor. God provides for our needs through prayer, and then God provides for the poor through our generosity.

When was the last time that you fasted? Have you ever fasted? If you have a physical condition that would be affected by fasting, you need to check with your doctor before attempting a fast. If you determine to fast for a long period of time, it would be good to research fasting and consult your doctor as well.

Try a beginner fast: start the day with breakfast then fast from Noon today until Noon tomorrow. Then, eat dinner on the second day. You are allowed to drink fluids during a fast. Some people stick to water and juice only. Some will add milkshakes and smoothies. The point is not to make this a legalistic exercise. This is also not the place to try out the Bassomatic.

You really won’t understand the benefits of fasting until you have experienced it yourself.

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