A biblical reflection to fasting
Concerning the declaration of the prayer and fasting day by the president of Zimbabwe. I thought it might be good to provide some biblical principles on what fasting is and what it is not. It is not my aim though to exhaust everything that can be said on the topic, but just to run through some important few guidelines.
To fast is to abstain from all food and drink, except water. It is very important to remain hydrated with water intake (not excessively). The designated time is from sunrise to sunset (approximately 12 hours – 6:30 am to 6:30 pm).
For anyone who is on chronic medication, or diabetic, it is advised that you do not participate in fasting. If anyone has any doubts as to the implications of fasting on their known medical condition please do not proceed with the fast without consulting a medical professional. It is wise and still godly to look after your body (1 Corinthians 6:19 ) and partake in prayer as able.
What is it not?
Fasting is not instrumental, i.e. it is not engaged to manipulate God or force some kind of result out of God. (For example, we are not fasting tomorrow to manipulate God to stop corruption in Zimbabwe, bring an end to our economic challenges, stop the Corona virus or maybe to force him to react. It is rather responsive, recognizing, and seeking to express relevant truths in the difficult scenarios like we are in at the moment. In other words, fasting is not done to seek results but in response to the already existing circumstances.
Truth number 1
When fasting we are acknowledging the human condition that we are fallen, weak, and vulnerable to disease, therefore we need to depend upon God’s grace and mercy (Matthew 11:28 ).
Truth number 2
When fasting we are acknowledging that God is the Provider and Sustainer of life (Acts 17:28 ). Therefore life is more important than food, and we confess that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4 ).
Truth number 3
When fasting we are acknowledging the reality that this world is with no doubt not good at all and therefore we long for the return of Christ and the new creation i.e. the fulfillment of all that Jesus’ death and resurrection accomplished (1 Peter 1:3-4 ). Just like in the OT where Israel was anticipating the glorious coming of the Messiah to rescue them from captivity.
Fasting without praying is not fasting
Fasting accompanies Prayer, so it is important to be clear on what we are asking the Lord for in any kind or form of the fasting program:
and in our case let me lay out the following as the things that may be part of our prayers:
• For the Lord to restore faithfulness, morality and a genuine fear of him and eradicate corruption in our nation.
• That God may heal our nation economically, socially and politically.
• For the Lord to intervene and reveal his will for our nation in our day.
• For many to come to faith and know that for sure we are not going to stay on this world forever.
• To appeal to the Lord for mercy towards those affected for the Lord’s healing, accepting that the Lord’s will ultimately be done.
• To appeal to the Lord for mercy towards those affected economically due to the lockdowns.
• To thank God for things beginning to return to normal and ask for continued safety still.
Nelson Vhukani is the current Regional Director of FOCUS Zimbabwe (Fellowship of Christian Union Students in Zimbabwe). He has a passion for developing young people and has served in FOCUS Zimbabwe for 6 years. Nelson also assists as a pastor at the United Baptist Church of Zimbabwe in Gweru, Zimbabwe. He is a core team member of The Gospel Confederation of Zimbabwe (TGCZ). Nelson and his wife, Tatenda, have one baby girl, Mayah.