Day 9

Fasting as Intercession (2 of 3)

from the Lent 2016 reading plan

Matthew 3:16-4:4, Acts 13:1-3, Ezra 8:21-23

It is funny that I am writing about fasting during our greatest season of feasting. Over the past two months, I have plopped down in a chair, sleepy and numb from a full belly, more times than I care to admit. I presume you know the feeling. Food is glorious.

Have you ever noticed, when you’re feeling all fat and happy, how that satisfaction makes you want to seek even greater comfort—perhaps in the form of pie, ice cream, or a nap? In that state, all our troubles seem so far away. This numb satisfaction, however, helps us understand one of the values of fasting as it is presented in the Bible. Just as feasting fosters a carefree compulsion to indulge in our own comfort, fasting fosters intercession—a concern for the burdens and needs of others.

Fasting is a great way to intercede for others. As a spiritual discipline, fasting stirs our hearts to pray for people and needs outside of our own. We see this modeled for us in Scripture. In the Old Testament, Ezra called for the people to fast as a way to intercede for the safety of their children (Ezra 8:21-23). In the early church, the Apostles fasted and prayed before sending Paul and Barnabas out as missionaries (Acts 13:1-3).

Jesus Himself fasted as a form of intercession. Before officially beginning His earthly ministry, Jesus went into the wilderness and fasted for forty days and nights. In His weakened state He was tempted by the devil, and that temptation was treacherous. Satan told Jesus, “Look, You’re hungry, but You don’t have to be. Satisfy Your appetites. Live this way” (Matt 3:16-4:4).

Thankfully, Jesus responded by saying that man does not live by satisfying every appetite that comes along, but rather by hanging onto the Word of God. Those forty days were an occasion for the devil to try to lure Jesus away from His mission. But Jesus stepped from that fast into a three-year process of offering Himself up as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). His fast in the wilderness was a form of intercession for us. It was during that fast that He actively prepared to live and die on our behalf.

The denial of appetites helps us to look beyond ourselves. It keeps us out of that post-Thanksgiving, tryptophan fog where all we want is another layer of personal comfort. When we are uncomfortable, we better empathize with the discomfort of others. When we are hungry, we better relate to those in need around the world. Fasting tunes our hearts to seek God’s face on behalf of a world in need. It awakens our senses.

If you choose to fast as a part of your preparation to celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus this Easter, use that pang of hunger to remind you to pray for those in need of Him, and to thank Him for refusing to choose His comfort over your salvation.

Written By Russ Ramsey 

Post Comments (12)

12 thoughts on "Fasting as Intercession (2 of 3)"

  1. Bryce says:

    We are constantly trying to find a cave to hide in to give us some temporary comfort and security. We want to be numbed and removed from discomfort. We want something other than our savior to comfort and help us.

  2. Bryce says:

    It taught me that God cares for the vulnerable, hungry and marginalized. I see that he cares about providing for and protecting his people. He wants us to be sensitive to these needs as well and fasting wakes us up to that.

  3. Bryce says:

    We can fast for the right reasons and motivations, to remind us of our need of God and the need of God in this world, rather than poor reasons of self righteousness and justification. The gospel pays for our desire to flee to our own comforts and sends us to God’s comforts for us.

  4. Ben Jones says:

    Without a prepared heart it’s often difficult for us to think let alone pray about the needs of others. We are weak and more times than not self-consumed with our own small problems when we have a brother or sister in Christ going through a much more devastating ordeal.

  5. Ben Jones says:

    As believers of the Gospel we are to pray for one another and that takes preparation. The Gospel commands that we bear one another’s burdens.

  6. Ben Jones says:

    By not being so consumed with my own issues that I can’t take the time to prepare my heart to pray and care for others. I will purposefully find a way to intercede for someone’s needs to God on their behalf.

  7. Ben Jones says:

    He listens when we intercede for others. He has provided fasting for us as a way to prepare our hearts to truly care for the struggles and needs of those around us. He desires the church to bear one another’s burdens.

  8. Isaac Jones says:

    Heavenly Father,
    Thank you for giving outward ways to worship you and remember your spiritual truths. Lord give me the strength of will and the desire in my heart to fast for you. When I fast I pray that I would have a bad attitude, but praise your name and seek you in prayers of supplication and study in your word; amen.

  9. Isaac Jones says:

    This shows that there are physical acts of obedience that follow our faith; faith without works is dead.

  10. Isaac Jones says:

    God allowed his human body to become as weak as possible then he denied the temptation of the very thing that body was craving. Jesus was absolutely perfect and truly God.

  11. Isaac Jones says:

    Man needs to fast to put the spiritual before the physical. The physical act of fasting shows the seriousness of our prayers/concerns. Fasting is an acceptable act of worship to bring our concerns before the Lord. Fasting shows our belief in the truth that man shall not live on bread alone, but needs the word of God for life.

  12. Isaac Jones says:

    I will fast before the Lord.

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