Matthew 6:16-18


The issue I am addressing is fasting, not medical or dietary, but spiritual, religious fasting. What is fasting? What does the Bible teach about fasting? Should we fast today? If, so how? Let’s hear what of our Lord Jesus Christ says in his Word about the matter.


Matthew 6:16-18  "Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. (17) But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; (18) That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly."


Fasting is an occasional abstinence from food and carnal pleasures. It is subjecting the needs and desires of the body to the burden of the heart and longings of the spirit in prayer. We read of many in the Word of God who fasted in prayer when greatly concerned about a specific matter (David, when his child was dying; Daniel, when he sought the mind of the Lord; Esther, before going in to Ahasueras; the Lord Jesus, before he was tempted; and the church at Antioch, when they ordained Paul and Barnabas to preach the gospel).


Yet, there is no direct command given in the Word of God requiring anyone to fast or teaching us that we should fast. It is left to each believer to decide whether he will fast, when, and for how long. This is a matter about which no man should sit in judgment over another.


There are some poor people in this world who never have enough to eat. It would be utter cruelty to require them to fast. Sickly people, whose frames must be sustained by a very strict diet, would be acting foolishly if they fasted. In a word - If you choose to fast, you may do so freely. And, if you choose not to fast, you may do so freely.


The only thing our Lord requires is that no one is to know, but you and the Lord, whether you fast or do not fast. If you fast, “do not appear unto men to fast.” That is the only rule given in the Word of God about fasting.


Do nothing in the worship and service of God to be seen of and applauded by men. Yes, we are to let our light shine before men, that they may see our good works and glorify our Father which is in heaven. But we are never to do anything that others my see and applaud us! The hypocrite is one who lets his light so shine before men that they cannot see what is going on backstage! The Lord God cares nothing about how much money you give, how long you pray or how often, and whether you fast. He is interested in only one thing - Why? “The Lord looketh on the heart!” When God looks on the heart, he looks for faith in and love for the Lord Jesus Christ. He will not accept us, and he will not accept anything we give to or do for him, no matter how costly, no matter how zealous we are, unless we are washed in the blood of his dear Son, robed in his righteousness, and sanctified by his Spirit (1 Pet. 2:7).


            Sinners cannot be accepted by the holy Lord God upon any grounds, for any reason, other than the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot give anything to God, worship him in prayer, or fast before him until we are in Christ by faith, until we are born again by his almighty grace. The real test of Christianity is not what we do for God, but what God in Christ has done for us.


Grace Baptist Church of Danville - Grace For Today Radio Message #620

2734 Old Stanford Road - Danville, Kentucky 40422-9438

Donald S. Fortner, Pastor -Telephone 606-236-8235 - Email