During times of crisis, a multitude of opinions flood our senses. It can be easy to allow others’ emotions, convictions, and words to alter our state of mind. However, we don’t need everyone’s opinions in crisis. The most important One we need to hear from is God.
We hear God more clearly in several ways. One of these is surrounding ourselves with people who hear from God regularly. Another, of course, is getting into His Word daily. But in times of crisis, we see throughout Scripture that God’s people also fasted as a community.
Fasting is abstaining from anything that you feel is getting in the way of your relationship with God. It could be food, television, or any other habit that’s taking His place. Typically, in Scripture, fasts were community responses to a national crisis. We see that throughout the Old Testament. Even in the New Testament, we see that the prophets and the teachers at Antioch fasted and prayed before they sent out Paul.
John the Baptist’s disciples came to Jesus’s disciples and said, “But why don’t your disciples fast?” And they said it in the plural. You see, all of John’s disciples got together and they fasted about issues. And Jesus responded and said, “As long as the Bridegroom is with them, there’s no need to fast. But when the Bridegroom is gone, that’s when you begin to fast.” And part of what Jesus is saying is you know you need to fast when the presence of God seems far away.”
Fasting allows us to turn over our plates and listen closely to God’s voice. Here’s a human example of why this is so important. It’s common for both my wife and I to talk to each other from different rooms. We’ll get on the phone, and talk to each other, too. But when it’s serious, I make sure I get into her presence, and see her face.
When it’s serious, you don’t want to be talking to God from the ends of the earth. When it’s serious, you begin to seek his face. This is what fasting allows us to do.
Dr. Derek Grier