Purposes of Fasting
By Pastor Bill Murchison
We are looking at the purposes of fasting. In the last article we looked at the fast that Jezebel called in 1 Kings 21. It was one of two different fasts in the same chapter. The first fast was done for appearance sake, much like what the religious leaders were doing Jesus’ time of ministry. Because of that, Jesus taught that our fasts are not done to be noticed by men, and to give the appearance of being righteous. Our fasts are to be done to be noticed by God. (Matthew 6:16-18)
Even though Jezebel’s fast was not for God, He saw it anyway. He sent Elijah to confront Ahab about murdering Naboth and seizing his vineyard. Elijah prophesied, “Thus says the LORD, ‘In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth the dogs will lick up your blood, even yours.’” (1 Kings 21:19)
The prophetic word pierced Ahab’s heart. Our text says that “It came about that when Ahab heard these words, that he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and fasted, and he lay in sackcloth and went about despondently.” Tearing the clothes speaks of remorse, sorrow, and repentance. Putting on sackcloth speaks of humbling ourselves. Ahab fasted for the right purpose. He fasted to mourn and show great sorrow for his sin. He fasted before God. Unlike the fast that his wife had called, this fast was not to be noticed by others and to appear righteous. Ahab’s fast was unto God, and it was noticed by God.
The text goes on to say, “Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, ‘Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days, but I will bring the evil upon his house in his son’s days.’” God recognized that Ahab’s fast was genuine, and that he was truly repentant for his sins. There were two different fasts. One fast had the wrong purpose; the other fast was genuine and had the right purpose. When we fast, we want to have the right purpose, to abstain from all food to humbly seek the Lord, to be noticed by God, to make our voices heard on high, to mourn for our sins, and to repent of our sins.
Father, thank You for Your word, and how it teaches us about all things pertaining to life and godliness. As we prepare to do a corporate fast, help us understand the right purposes for our fast. We want our fast to be noticed by You. We want to make our voices heard on high. We want to fast for the right purposes. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.