by: Robert E. Henson
16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
It is well understood by those who practice fasting that it can be very disturbing to one’s flesh. This is precisely what fasting is meant to do. In fact, fasting is meant to subdue and conquer the flesh, plus much more.
The root purpose of fasting is to weaken the flesh, especially its proud spirit and its lustful desires. The more the flesh and its nature are weakened, the more fully and completely a person can submit to the will and ways of God.
The flesh – more often than the devil or the world ¬is responsible for our failure to perform or accomplish God’s perfect plan for our lives. Fasting gives us a much better grip on our fleshly, carnal nature; thus, enabling us to bring it into subjection unto Christ.
Why Fasting And Prayer?
Is it possible to control the flesh by means of God’s power delivered to us through prayer? It seems obvious that the Scriptures indicate that the answer to this question is affirmative. The flesh can be brought into obedience by means of appropriate, consistent, and effectual prayers.
That leads us to this pivotal question – If a primary reason for fasting is the subjugation of the flesh, and if this control can be accomplished through prayer, then why do we even need fasting at all?
There are several valid responses to this question, all of which validate fasting. In the remainder of this chapter, we will consider a number of solid reasons as to why we should practice the scriptural discipline of fasting.