The ‘Reward’ Jesus Promises for Fasting (Fasting Edition #173)


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.

Fasting for the King’s Coming (Fasting Edition #172)


Our fasting quote of encouragement today is from Andrew Murray. He said: “Fasting helps express, deepens, confirms the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.”

Our fasting devotional today is titled “FASTING FOR THE KING’S COMING” from John Piper, author of the bestselling book “A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer”.

Are we settled into the world so comfortably that the thought of fasting for the end of history, is almost unthinkable?

What about older people? Can you taste the glories of the presence of the King better because they are nearer? Do you turn that taste into fasting for the King’s coming?

What about younger people? Do you love Jesus so much that his coming would be the greatest thing you can imagine? Or is he a kind of weekend topic of religious talk that sometimes helps you with a bad conscience but isn’t someone you would want to interrupt your life?

What about those of us in the middle—or pushing the upper end of the middle? How do we feel about being told that fasting may reflect how much we want the bridegroom to come? Does Anna’s passion for the Messiah in Luke 2:36–38 appeal to us at all? Do we want the appearance of Jesus more than we want to finish our career plans?

I have seen too much now about fasting and the meaning of hunger for God, and hunger for his Word, and hunger for the children’s safety, and hunger for world evangelization, and hunger for the Bridegroom, and the way Jesus speaks of expressing this hunger with fasting—I have seen too much now to go on with business as usual.

Anna: Fasting for the First Coming of the King (Fasting Edition #171)


Our fasting quote of encouragement today is from an Unknown Author. He said: “Fasting is a way to demonstrate to God, and to yourself, that you are serious about your relationship with Him. Fasting helps you to gain a new perspective and a renewed reliance upon God.”

Our fasting devotional today is titled “ANNA: FASTING FOR THE FIRST COMING OF THE KING” from John Piper, author of the bestselling book “A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer”.

In calling for the church to fast for the coming King, we are not asking for something new. Luke 2:36–38 shows us an old woman who gave almost her whole life to this sacred ministry before the King came the first time.

There was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with a husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. And she never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. And at that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Mary and Joseph had just brought the infant Jesus into the temple. Luke tells us about two very old people, Simeon and Anna, who recognize who the baby is. What marks both of these people is that they were yearning and longing for the coming of the Messiah. In verse 25 it says that Simeon was “looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him.” Jesus, the Messiah, is the consolation of Israel.

In verse 37 it says that Anna virtually never left the temple and was serving the Lord “with fastings and prayers.” In other words, she was like Simeon—she was longing for the Messiah to come; she was fasting and praying night and day because she was looking for “the redemption of Jerusalem.”

In verse 38 she comes at just the right moment to see the Messiah-child, and she gives thanks to God and speaks of him to all who were “looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” In other words God gave a special glimpse of the King’s glory to those who were yearning and longing and looking for “the redemption of Jerusalem.” For Anna that meant a life of fasting decade after decade—probably 60 years since her husband died—as she ministered in the temple.

I think one of the reasons Luke tells us about Simeon and Anna is to illustrate how holy and devout people respond to the promise of Christ’s coming. And how God responds to their longings. They see more than others see. They may not understand fully all the details about how the Messiah is coming—Simeon and Anna surely didn’t—but God mercifully gives them a glimpse before they die, of what they so passionately wanted to see.

Fasting as the Counterpart to the Lord’s Supper (Fasting Edition #170)

Our fasting quote of encouragement today is from Andrew Bonar. He said: “Fasting [is] abstaining from anything that hinders prayer.”

Our fasting devotional today is titled “FASTING AS THE COUNTERPART TO THE LORD’S SUPPER” from John Piper, author of the bestselling book “A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer”.

I wonder if the Lord means for fasting to be a counterpart to the Lord’s Supper. Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” By eating we remember that Jesus has come and died for our sins. But by not eating—by fasting—we say: yes, but the bridegroom is not here. He was here, and he loved us to the uttermost. And we can eat and even celebrate with feasting because he has come. But this we also know: he is not here as he once was. And his absence is painful. The sin and misery of the world is painful. The people of Christ are weak and despised—like sheep in the midst of wolves. We long for him to come again and take up his throne and reign in our midst and vindicate his people and his truth and his glory. So the feasting of the Lord’s Supper expresses what has happened; and our fasting expresses what has not yet happened.

Why We Should Trust God, Not Bread (Fasting Edition #169)


Our fasting quote of encouragement today is from Bill Thrasher. He said: “The abstinence is not to be an end in itself but rather for the purpose of being separated to the Lord and to concentrate on godliness. This kind of fasting reduces the influence of our self-will and invites the Holy Spirit to do a more intense work in us.”

Our fasting devotional today is titled “WHY WE SHOULD TRUST GOD, NOT BREAD” from John Piper, author of the bestselling book “A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer”.

Matthew 4:4 says: [God] fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.

He gave them manna—an utterly un-heard-of food falling from heaven—Why? “So that” they would learn to live on everything that comes from the mouth of God. How does miraculous manna teach that? Because manna is one of the incredible ways God can, with a mere word, reveal himself and meet your needs when all else looks hopeless.

But watch what Satan does with that. Satan says to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, turn this stone to bread.” In other words, “Do the manna thing. Make manna like you did in the wilderness. If the point of manna in the wilderness was to teach the people to expect miracles in distress, then treat yourself to some miracle bread, and you will be obeying Scripture.”

And Jesus responds, “You are so close and yet so far. You have always handled the Word of God that way, so subtle. You sound like you approve God’s Word, but you turn every word against him. The point is this Satan: Don’t trust in bread—not even miracle bread—trust in God. Don’t get your deepest satisfactions in life from food—not even God-wrought miracle food—but from God. Every word that comes out of the mouth of God reveals God. And it is this self-revelation that we feed on. This will last forever. This is eternal life. Begone, Satan, God is my portion. I will not turn from his path and his fellowship, not even for miraculous manna.”

I invite you to let God prove your heart with fasting. See if he does not reveal some deep things to you, and give himself to you for food.

Proving Our Hearts (Fasting Edition #168)

Our fasting devotional today is titled “PROVING OUR HEARTS” from John Piper, author of the bestselling book “A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer”.

The people of God are often called to go without the ordinary means of life. Fasting is a brief, voluntary experience of this deprivation to prove our hearts. When we experience this “going without,” the Lord reveals what is in our hearts. What are we controlled by? Richard Foster says in his chapter on fasting,

More than any other single Discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us. This is a wonderful benefit to the true disciple who longs to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. We cover up what is inside us with food and other good things, but in fasting these things surface. If pride controls us, it will be revealed almost immediately. David said, “I humbled my soul with fasting” (Ps. 69:10). Anger, bitterness, jealousy, strife, fear—if they are within us, they will surface during fasting. At first we will rationalize that our anger is due to our hunger then we know that we are angry because the spirit of anger is within us. We can rejoice in this knowledge because we know that healing is available through the power of Christ.

What are we slaves to? What are our bottom line passions? Fasting is God’s testing ground—and healing ground. Will we murmur as the Israelites murmured when they had no bread? Will we leave the path of obedience and turn stones into bread? Or will we “live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”? Fasting is a way of revealing to ourselves and confessing to God what is in our hearts.

The Resurgence of Worship and Prayer but Not Fasting (Fasting Edition #167)

Our fasting quote of encouragement today is from William Secker. He said: “By fasting, the body learns to obey the soul; by praying the soul learns to command the body.”

Our fasting devotional today is titled “THE RESURGENCE OF WORSHIP AND PRAYER BUT NOT FASTING” from John Piper, author of the bestselling book “A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer”.

There are three elements in Acts 13:1–3—worship, prayer, and fasting. In our day there has been a remarkable resurgence of worship and prayer. Tens of thousands of congregations around the world are experiencing more vibrant, freer, more engaging worship in the last 20 years. And the prayer movements around the world are unprecedented in number and scope. In my own state the Minnesota Prayer Coalition is unprecedented in pulling the body of Christ together to pray for the reviving of Christ’s church and the advance of his kingdom.

But there is not yet a comparable resurgence of the practice of fasting as there has been with worship and prayer. Bill Bright suggested that God may will that all three be in place and that the church be humbled and hungry with fasting before he blesses us as fully as he means to. It is remarkable how neglected this spiritual practice is.