“Fasting is not something that you offer God, instead it assists you in offering yourself to God”
The Israelites fasted regularly. It was a part of their culture. As with so many things, fasting had become so ingrained in tradition that it had lost its true meaning. When something becomes an empty ritual, it no longer has the power to affect a heart. (Read Isaiah 58)
Their fast seemed noble, they were eager for God to come near. They would lie down, dressed in sackcloth and ashes, wailing and crying. But, as with the modern church, ancient Israel was plagued with religiosity—a disease of convenience. Fasting had become a pretty little package to offer it to God in hope that it would appease Him. It is tough to pull the wool over God's eyes. We can pull the wool over our own eyes but not God's—He sees the heart.
God does not want our works or pretty little gifts. He wants our hearts, and that is where the Israelites made their mistake! Their fasting was an insult to God's intelligence. Do you really think that you can appease Me by offering your little fasts and expect Me to turn a blind eye to the corruption and rebellion in your heart?
God does not respond to the things which we do, He responds to a change of heart, and it is here where we come to the true purpose of spiritual fasting.
Fasting is a tool to help us change our hearts before God
Fasting is not something which we are offering up to God, but, instead, it assists in offering ourselves up to God (Rom. 12:1-2). Going to church, fasting, speaking in tongues, reading the Bible—we offer these things up to God as being pleasing to Him. Yet, these are the tools which assist in giving to God what He truly wants—our hearts. Our passions are the dish that delights the heart of God.
Fasting Is A Way Of Inviting Jesus In
Think of fasting as an invitation for Jesus to come and live with you for an appointed period of time. If it helps, set a bed and place-setting at the table. It may sound strange yet useful if only to solidify in your mind the reality of the presence of Jesus. And, be sure that it delights God’s heart when we put any energy towards creatively making Jesus real in our thinking and imagination.
If Jesus came to live with you during your fast, would you act different? How much time would you spend watching TV? What kind of music would you listen? Would there be books that you would have to hide under the chesterfield? What would you feed Him? What would you do for entertainment? Would you take Him out on the town? What you listen to, He listens to. What you imagine, He imagines. What you eat, He eats.
Feeling a little trapped? Don’t, because you’re the one who invited Him in when you became a Christian. He wants to commune with you so that He may become the Center of your existence, the Foundation of your house, Healer, Friend, and Lover. Too close for comfort? Yes, God can make you feel uncomfortable at times, but there’s a purpose. It causes growth and maturity that result in a deeper relationship.
The fullness of God has been set within us, we don't need more of Him; it is just that our lives have become so cluttered with distractions, fears and dependencies on this world that we are unable to sense and experience that fullness. We become spiritually numb; the part of us that is connected to God becomes cold and indifferent. The Holy Spirit grieves and grows silent, creating an emptiness which He uses to draw us back into fellowship. The problem is that we so often fill that emptiness with things. Don't do that! Feel empty! Feel the pain! Allow your heart to suffer. Don't be afraid, it will draw you to Jesus.
Related Article: Spiritual fasting