I Believe Research Episode 3: Commentaries on the Importance of Fasting
Happy Monday friends!
Today, I am so excited to share some of the prayer and research I’ve been up to in preparing for the interactive Bible Study I’m releasing in March 2019.
The research Im releasing will be extensive in its range of sources, all focused on the topic of fasting: what it is, how it has been shown to be beneficial or otherwise, what the Bible says, what to do during fasting, potential contentions/other interpretations, etc.
Today, I am focusing on a biblical verse from the book of 1 Corinthians that I think very important to include in this research.
1 Corinthians 5:7
Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
1 Corinthians is one of the documented letters of the Apostle Paul to the church in Corinth of his time.
Here, Paul is referring specifically to married couples, as he explains in the verses preceding this verse.
Commentators and scholars vastly agree that Paul is explaining the importance of sexual activity within marriage, and the blessing that it is to each person in the marriage. The only time that sex should be disregarded, Paul says, is if the couple is in agreement that they should be taking some time to seek God in individual prayer, thus “fasting sex” to pray– but always to come together again.
The Expositer’s Greek Testament explains that the deprivation of sex within marriage is in fact unjust, with the exception of mutually agreed upon prayer, likely discerned by the Holy Spirit together as a couple.
What does this mean for the purposes of our Bible Study?
A few things, I think.
Fasting is intentional and purposeful. In the case of sex, Scripture states that it should not be fasted, unless the purpose of the fast is for prayer that is discernibly needed.
For our purposes, we don’t want to just fast anything. What I’m getting at is that the fasted substance of one person may be absolutely right for them in their context, but horribly wrong for another person.
For example: I have a history of restrictive eating, obsessing with food counts, and idolizing the “perfect” diet. So, if I fasted unhealthy food, that would be incredibly self serving and actually dangerous for me.
However, there may be someone else who is in prayer about what they may be called to fast, and is convicted that junk food and eating consume their thoughts, and that abstaining from junk food/those thoughts to pray instead is exactly what they are called to do.
What we fast isn’t necessarily inherently “bad.” Sex is a beautiful, necessary-for-life and vital for healthy marriage, good thing. The emphasis in Scripture is that it should only be fasted for the purpose of prayer in a season of need for that!
Television isn’t evil, and neither is social media (I’m still debating both of these😉). Neither is online shopping, or drinking a glass of wine, or thinking about your next workout. But if you ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your heart in matters of your life that consume a lot of your thoughts, He may reveal that fasting something for a period is going to be an important thing for you.
Prayer is the purpose. Scripture is very clear in 1 Corinthians that prayer is the very purpose of any time of abstinence from sex. So, if we fast something for “self-improvement,” and not to be closer to Jesus, we need to check our heart. Ie., if you’re thinking about fasting a certain food, but your heart is screaming, “ooh, maybe I’ll lose weight/get a better body,” you probably should reconsider the substance you’re fasting.
Prayer should substitute the fasted activity or substance. Since I’ve been praying about this study, God gave me a picture of a young man who often finds himself playing video games in his downtime choosing to spend time with God instead, and being amazed at how quickly the time passes as he spent it getting to know his Lord.
Are you interested in joining the Bible study? You will be able to follow along online, or, if you’re in KW area, attend our weekly meetings, too! Im so excited to get started in March 2019. As always, please reach out to me with any questions, and share with your friends!