The Value of Fasting
RESPONDING to modern society’s obsession with image and appearance, some weight-loss programs prescribe fasting. In ancient Israel, fasting was observed for more purposes than that. For example, the gallant men of Gilead fasted for seven days to express their grief over King Saul’s death (1 Chronicles 10:12). Rather than hide their sadness and feelings of loss, they openly expressed it by using fasting as a cleansing discipline.
Other purposes for fasting among the Israelites included:
- commemorating special occasions of God’s deliverance (Zechariah 8:19)
- repenting of and grieving for disobedience and sin against the Lord (Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 7:6)
- expressing humility before God (Leviticus 16:29; Psalm 69:10)
- seeking guidance from the Lord by clearing out the senses and focusing on Him (Exodus 34:28; 2 Chronicles 20:3-4)
Today one hears much about “focus,” “concentration,” and “working the program” in areas such as sports, the workplace, and psychotherapy. Fasting is a means toward spiritual focus by concentrating on God rather than on food and other personal needs.