The Manifold Benefits of Fasting: Matthew 6:16-18
““16) And whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 17) But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face 18) so that you will not be seen fasting by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭16‬-‭18‬
Jesus now moves the discussion to the practice of fasting. He did not say “if” you fast, but rather “when” you fast. It seems that fasting was expected. Jesus Himself began His ministry with an extended fast.
Isaiah 58:5-12 is the foundational text on fasting in the Bible. Both the physical and spiritual benefits of fasting are manifold in this text. Take time to study this amazing text. Make a list of the benefits of fasting recorded in this text. I guarantee it will get your attention.
Modern medicine has discovered the many health benefits of fasting. Studies have shown that around 72 hours into a prolonged fast, the body starts producing new stem cells dedicated to physical healing. The health benefits of fasting have been well documented and can be profound.
But Jesus was more focused on the spiritual benefits of fasting. According to Isaiah, fasting not only helps pull down sinful strongholds, but it also greatly enhances communion with God and the effectiveness of prayer and intercession. It is a way to invite Gods presence, guidance and favor into your life.
But Jesus stated in Matthew 6:16-18 that people could forfeit the spiritual benefits of fasting because of wrong motives. Those who fast to impress people do not impress God. To the contrary, they have their reward in full.
Living for the praise of people in any spiritual discipline cancels any benefit from God. Some who were fasting turned it into a public drama. They neglected their appearance, moaned openly and announced in public that they were fasting. Instead of humbling themselves before God, they were lobbying to be noticed by people. They were stroking their own pride.
Proper fasting in secret with humility gains the attention of God. It punctuates that our prayers are important and urgent. We are saying that meeting with God is more important than food, and in some cases more important than sleep. (Matthew 26:36-46)
I encourage every child of God to embark on a serious study of prayer and fasting in the Bible. Then build these spiritual dynamics into your life. Make the pursuit of God your top priority.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global