Fasting is One Way to Worship God

To worship God means to express yourself in such a way as to show how much you value God Himself.

God wants worship from the heart. “The Father is seeking those who will worship Him in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23,24). Our worship ought to be sincere, based on the true opinion of our heart, not some kind of fake external show. In other words, whether we are singing, or praying, or giving, or even fasting – if the whole exercise is designed to create an impression with other human beings, and does not reflect the way we truly value God, then it is just so much religious rubbish to God. He wants people to be REAL with Him. He sees through all pretense.

Having said this, it is true that we show value for people or things according to what we give up in order to give priority to those people or things. In other words, it has to COST US something – but we do this willingly because of the value we put on the thing we are obtaining.

If our goal is to obtain personal knowledge of God, that’s a great goal, but obtaining this knowledge might not be personally “cheap”. Not that we can “merit” the knowledge of God, or give something of equal value in exchange for it, or make a trade, or work for it, BUT – just the receiving of the knowledge of God will often require us to give focus of our attention to God, while at the same time “saying no” to all kinds of other things which might also be somewhat appealing to us.

In the Old Testament, King David said that he would not offer to God something which cost him nothing. There is a principle in this for us. God also made it clear in the book of Malachi that He is not impressed with second rate offerings – to offer God a defective lamb as a sacrifice to Him was an insult to the majesty and honor of God.

Fasting as a form of worship

This brings us to the matter of fasting. To fast is to voluntarily abstain from eating food. God made us in such a way that we all like and need food. Food satisfies our bodies and sometimes we even use it to comfort our souls. To give up eating food for some hours, days or even weeks for the purpose of knowing God is then a very serious expression of worship. In doing this, we are giving up one of the things we like most, that we enjoy most, that we find most satisfying, because of the supreme value we place on knowing God better.

There is a mention of this kind of worship in the Bible.

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. (Luke 2:36-37 ESV)

Anna was a prophetess, and she was in tune with what God was doing in sending Jesus. That is why she knew to come at the time Jesus was dedicated in the temple. It says of Anna, “And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” (vs 38).

Worship and “serving” the Lord are tightly related concepts in the Bible. The King James Version says that Anna “served God with fastings and prayers night and day” while other version like the NIV and ESV use the word “worship”. There is an overlapping of meaning here. We tend to serve what we worship.

God speaks important things to us as His people during times of worship and fasting. We see this for example in the Book of Acts:

Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

We are not told exactly how the Holy Spirit spoke, but we can imagine it was most likely through the gift of prophecy coming through one or more of the people there.

What is significant to consider for our purposes here is this: the Holy Spirit thought it was important for us to know that these prophets and teachers were FASTING when the Holy Spirit launched Paul and Barnabas in their apostolic ministry. It was a kind of intense worship which included fasting. The people were giving up the food they would normally greatly enjoy, and even most likely suffering the pangs of hunger and the effect of weakness, just to honor the Lord God. And this is one kind of worship that God will frequently reward with special revelations of His Will.

I urge you and I encourage myself also to express our worship to God also through fasting. This will add a powerful dimension to our prayer lives and to our worship. At least, let us refrain from overeating. Overeating might be socially acceptable, but experience has proven it can really quench the flow of the Holy Spirit in our lives. A life that is disciplined in eating and in talking is a life through which the Holy Spirit can and will move in greater power.

It all depends on how much we really value God.


Michael Fackerell

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