1. And later, as I was sending them away, I said to them: Behold, I will go to Hebron; for there the Mighty One wants me to go.
2. And I came to that place, and sat and fasted for seven days.
PRAYER OF BARUCH
1. After the seventh day of fasting, I prayed before the Mighty One and said:
2. O My Lord, You beckon the events of times, and they appear; You command the ruling powers to cease, and they do not oppose You; You command the times of the seasons, and the days obey You;
3. You alone know the procedure of the ages, and You do not reveal Your mysteries to many;
4. You reveal the power of fire, and You weigh the lightness of the wind;
5. You explore the vast heights, and You scrutinize the darkness of the depths;
6. You care for the many who have died, that their souls may be preserved, and You have prepared an abode for those who will someday be resurrected;
7. You remember the beginning of creation, and the destructive judgment yet to come You will not forget;
8. With fear and indignation, You commanded the flames to become the angelic spirits, and with a word You created matter from that which was nothing, and You control that which is yet to come.
The battle between the soul and the spirit continues in our age, as it did in those days. The key now, just as then, is to feed the spirit the Word of God and prayer. The spirit of mankind can grow stronger and stronger, but the soul will keep battling. To keep control over the soul, which would satisfy the flesh, and ignore the spiritual needs of the person, we must starve the soul.
The Lord has shown us a way to keep the spirit in control, and this way is called "fasting." This is from the Hebrew word, "tsum," and from the Greek word, "nesteia." It means "not to eat". Fasting is a voluntary abstinence from food.
Fasting is the method by which we exercise the fruit of temperance on purpose. By exercising self control over even the basic need of food, will strengthen our ability to say no to the flesh when its desires are contrary to the will of God.
Fasting is exercising all the fruit of the Spirit on purpose, and reading the Word, praying, and not eating in order to have more time for the former. This starves the soul, and feeds the spirit. Thereby fasting puts the spirit back into control.
Some fasting was partial, some was complete. Daniel fasted and ate no "bread, flesh, or wine" (Daniel 10:2-3). The Day of Atonement was to exclude all food and drink (Leviticus 23:32). Some fasts were morning to evening. Some fasts were exceptional, as Moses and Elijah fasted for 40 days each (Exodus 34:28, I Kings 19:8). Baruch fasted for seven days here.
Fasts can be ruined, and many instructions are given us in the Word of God concerning fasting:
as the Pharisees bragged on their fasting and did the fast for show
"I fast twice in a week."
Anna fasted properly, and "served God with fastings and prayers, night and day (Luke 2:37).
Jesus spoke of fasting in Matthew 6:16-18 where He warned of fasting to parade piety, but approved of fasting if it were an expression of humility and devotion.
In Matthew 9:14-17, Mark 2:18-22, and Luke 5:38-39, Jesus replied to inquiries and stated that His disciples had no need to fast while Jesus was there, but afterward, they would.
In the early church, the congregation at Antioch fasted and prayed before sending Paul and Barnabas as missionaries (Acts 13:2-3).
The elders (pastors) of congregations were appointed with fasting and prayers (Acts 14:23).
Fasting will change us, not God. God has always wanted to answer our prayers. If He does not answer, it is because of us.
Fasting is - on purpose -
to cause the fruit the Spirit to be exercised.
and to get us into the fervent intercession.
so He can answer.
EIGHT THINGS THAT RUIN A FAST
1. IF WE COMPLAIN ABOUT IT
"Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and Thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and Thou takest no knowledge."
2. DOING PLEASURES DURING THE FAST
"Behold, in the day of your fast, ye find pleasure."
3. DOING UNNECESSARY WORK
"Behold, in the day of your fast, ye... exact all your labors."
4. ARGUING AND FIGHTING
"Behold, ye fast for strife and debate."
5. DOING WICKEDNESS
"...and to smite with the fist of wickedness."
6. MAKING PRAYERS TO BE HEARD AND NOTICED BY OTHERS
"...ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice heard on high."
7. BOWING THE HEAD TO SHOW OTHERS YOUR BURDENS
"Is it such a fast that I have chosen? ... is it to bow down his head as a bulrush."
8. PUBLICLY ACKNOWLEDGING THE FAST
"...to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?"
WHAT IS A TRUE FAST?
"Is not this the fast that I have chosen?"
1. STOP SINNING
"to loose the bands of wickedness."
2. STOP UNNECESSARY WORK
"to undo the heavy burdens."
3. HELP OTHERS IN TROUBLE
"to let the oppressed go free."
4. BREAK ALL THE HABITS THAT HAVE GRIPPED YOU
"and that ye break every yoke."
"If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke."
5. BE GENEROUS TO THE NEEDY
"Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry?"
6. BE FRIENDLY TO THE NEEDY
"that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house?"
7. GIVE OF YOUR SELF TO THE NEEDY
"when thou seest the naked and thou cover him."
8. DO NOT COVER OR HIDE YOUR SINS FROM YOURSELF
"...that thou cover not thyself from thine own flesh."
9. STOP ACCUSING OTHERS
"take away from the midst of thee... the putting forth of the finger."
10. STOP BOASTING
"take away from the midst of thee... speaking of vanity."
REWARDS FOR FASTING
1. SPIRITUAL BLESSING
"They shall thy light break forth as the morning."
"thine health shall spring forth speedily."
3. HOLINESS WILL BE EASIER
"thy righteousness shall go before thee."
4. GOD'S GLORY WILL ENCOMPASS YOU
"the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward."
5. ANSWERED PRAYER
"Then thou shalt call and the Lord will answer."
6. PRESENCE OF GOD IN TIME OF NEED
"...thou shalt cry, and He shall say, 'Here am I.'"
7. WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE
"then shall thy light rise in obscurity and thy darkness be as noon day."
8. GUIDANCE FROM GOD
"And the Lord shall guide thee."
9. BLESSINGS DURING HARD TIMES
"...the Lord shall... satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones, and thou shalt be a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not."
The Lord has called for us to fast.
"Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord."
"When ye fast, be not as the hypocrites of a sad countenance, for they disfigure their faces... when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face... thy Father, Who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly."
Fasting is so much more than abstinence from food.
True, and effective fasting is to be accompanied by:
Prayer (Daniel 9:3)
Confession of sin (I Samuel 7:6, Nehemiah 9:1-2)
Reading of Scripture (Jeremiah 36:6)
Exercising the fruit of the Spirit (Isaiah 58).