Our fasting quote of encouragement today is from Wesley Duewel. He said: “Fasting in the biblical sense is choosing not to partake of food because your spiritual hunger is so deep, you determination in intercession so intense, or your spiritual warfare so demanding that you have temporarily set aside even fleshly needs to give yourself to prayer and meditation.”
Our fasting devotional today is titled “THE ‘REWARD’ JESUS PROMISES FOR FASTING” from John Piper, author of the bestselling book “A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer”.
Matthew 6:16–18 reads: And whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance in order to be seen fasting by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face so that you may not be seen fasting by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
What is the “repayment” or the “reward” that Jesus promises from the Father here? Might it be “the praise of men”? We would make a dupe out of God if we tried to use him in some roundabout way to get what we really want instead of him, the praise of men. That’s not the reward he gives.
Might it be money? The very next verse (v. 19) warns against laying up treasures on earth (whether God gives them or not) and says to lay up treasures in heaven—where there is no earthly currency except faith and love.
No, the best place to find out the reward of our fasting is to look here in the Sermon on the Mount. For example, the prayer that Jesus just taught us to pray in Matthew 6:9–13 begins with three main longings: that God’s name be hallowed or revered, that his kingdom come, that his will be done on earth the way it’s done in heaven. That is the main reward God gives for our fasting. We fast out of longing for God’s name to be known and cherished and honored, and longing for his rule to be extended and then consummated in history, and longing for his will to hold sway everywhere with the same devotion and energy that the inexhaustible angels show sleeplessly in heaven forever and ever.
For sure he gives us many, many specific things through fasting. And it is not wrong to seek specifically for his help in every area of our lives through fasting. But these three petitions: hallowing his name, seeking his kingdom, and doing his will—these give the test to see if all the other things we long for are expressions of these. Do we want our sons and daughters saved because this would hallow God’s name? Do we want North Korea to open for the sake of the advance of the kingship of Jesus? Do we want upright leaders in government because God’s holy, revealed will for his creation is at stake? Do we want our churches revived and awakened with divine power and love and joy because it glorifies the name of God and advances his kingdom and brings about his will?
This is what Jesus is calling us to—a radically God-oriented fasting. So for the sake of your own soul, and in response to Jesus, and for the advancement of the kingdom of God’s great saving purpose to glorify his name, fast, and fix your hair, and wash your face, and let the Father who sees in secret see you open your heart of yearning to him with fasting. The Father who sees in secret is brimming with rewards for your joy and for his glory.