Secret Missions with God: Fast

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 5:16-18

In Jesus’s day, everyone knew who the religious leaders were. Not only were they decked out in special garb, but they made their presence and “righteousness” known wherever they went. As Jesus teaches during the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), he tells his disciples that these religious leaders have it all backwards when it comes to giving, prayer, and fasting.

For those unfamiliar with fasting, it is the spiritual practice of going without food for a set time period in order to focus on our relationship with God. While this may seem like a less common spiritual practice today, it is one of the most powerful ways to grow our faith. Both of these articles from the NIV website and DesiringGod are great places to start if you want to learn more.

Jesus tells his disciples that when they Pharisees fast, they make sure everyone knows. While the real goal of fasting is to seek God for a particular reason, the Pharisees were focused on other people praising them for their righteousness. And Jesus says that they have received what they wanted (the praise of others), but they’ve missed out on what they needed most: connection with God.

Jesus tells us that as we fast, we should look and act normally, keeping our fasting between us and God rather than bragging to others. And as we do so, God will see our efforts and bless us.

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