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August 10, 2023 / by Pastor Traig Whittaker

Ask around about fasting and it won’t be long before you hear a story like this one…

“I’ve fasted and nothing happened. The pastor said that it was in the Bible so I decided to try it. First thing in the morning I didn’t go down for breakfast with the kids. I didn’t think that I had enough willpower to do that. So, I went to the office early. Usually about midmorning some coworkers gather for coffee and a snack. I didn’t want to tell people what I was doing so I made up some story about why I couldn’t join them. After skipping lunch, by midafternoon my concentration was shot. All I could think about was how hungry I was. When I got home from work my wife was preparing supper for herself and the kids. A plan began to formulate in my mind…if I could just make it until midnight that would qualify as a full day of fasting. I made it. At the stroke of twelve I set aside all self-restraint. It was just me and the fridge. I don’t think that fasting helped me one bit.”

What’s the difference between this misery-filled, self-centered experiment and truly biblical fasting? Purpose.

Here are a few examples of biblical purposes for fasting.

  • Fast for enhanced prayer – Fasting has a way of providing extraordinary focus to our prayerful intercessions.
  • Fast for getting direction – Fasting can be a means of more clearly discerning God’s will.
  • Fast to express grief over sin – Of course, all repentance should reflect some degree of godly sorrow.
  • Fast to seek God’s help – One of the most common biblical fasts was to seek deliverance from an enemy or threatening circumstance.
  • Fast as an expression of unique concern for a move of God – It may be a personal renewal or something as broad as a national revival.
  • Fast as an element of overcoming temptation – An extraordinary temptation may call for this extraordinary step.
  • Fast to reveal to yourself just how much you want God – We are happy to receive God’s gifts but are we satisfied with the gifts in such a way as to diminish our desire for the gift-giver?

We don’t fast to earn God’s favor. We can’t fast our way into impressing God. Our relationship with the Lord is established by the work of Christ, not any work that we might do.

Jesus said that those who follow Him would fast. Make sure that your fast is purpose-filled.

Pastor Traig Whittaker has served at East White Oak since 2000. His ministry responsibilities include oversight of the church’s Christian Education programs and administrative duties. Traig is married to Laura and they have four adult children.

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August OakLeaf Articles:

Joining Together for Revival by Pastor Scott Boerckel
Are We Forgetting Something? Prayer with Fasting by Dr. Jeff VanGoethem
Fasting: Power From Helplessness by April Kinzinger
Purpose-Filled Fasting by Pastor Traig Whittaker
Quotes About Fasting compiled by Rob Sizemore
5 Myths About Fasting by David Mathis