Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
- Galatians 6:7-8 NIV
A few years ago, I began hearing some wonderful teaching about different kinds of fasting. Although there are some definite benefits to abstaining from food as we pray and seek God about certain matters, I'm not referring to that kind of fasting here. I'm speaking of fasting from certain actions and things in an effort to overcome the sin in our lives. In Isaiah 58, God reveals that it pleases Him greatly when we fast from sinful behavior. I have used this Biblical principle to overcome sins in my life that I never thought I could break free from. As the verses above from Galatians 6 tell us, when we sow seeds of disobedience--seeking to please ourselves and our fleshly impulses--we will reap a harvest of destruction and decay. But when we sow seeds of obedience--seeking to please God and to live His way--we will reap a harvest of life and blessings. The Lord showed me that if I would take even the smallest steps of obedience by fasting from certain behaviors, He would reward me with the divine enablement I need to overcome my sin.
For instance, when I was struggling with my weight, I began making some real progress when I began fasting certain foods at certain times. If someone brought me an apple pie, I could silently declare to God that I would fast from the pie, or I could fast from all but one piece of the pie. I would offer this fast to the Lord as "seed sown to the Spirit," that He might deliver me from my desire and my tendency to overeat or to eat unwisely. I also would set aside a meal or two a day when I would fast all foods except fresh fruits and vegetables, and perhaps some healthy protein-rich item. Not only did my excess weight come off quickly, but I began focusing less and less on food, which was what I was praying for most. This radical change of heart was confirmation that God was involved in my weight loss efforts and He was ensuring my victory.
I encourage you to seek God about any sins in your life that He would have you apply this principle to. If you have a tendency to gossip, you could fast speaking unkindly about others for a day, or at least part of a day. Even the smallest sacrifice you make will be noticed and rewarded by God. Jesus promised that the Father would reward us for our fasting. (Matthew 6:18) I claim this promise almost every time I fast, and you can too. Sometimes I even ask the Lord for a specific reward, if I feel led to. Don't hesitate to do this if the reward is something that would please and glorify God. I find that fasting the things that lead me into temptation is the most helpful. If you are struggling with some type of sexual sin, try fasting from the people, places and things that tend to lead you to sin. You can even declare a fast on ungodly thoughts. Then if one comes to mind, you can say--"I'm fasting that!"--and reject it, offering it up to the Lord as a sacrifice. Be creative in your fasting, seeking the Holy Spirit's leading. I've discovered that the possibilities are endless in using this principle to become more Christlike. I believe that fasts like these demonstrate to God that we are serious about wanting to please Him. They give God something to work with, even if they are the smallest efforts on our part, because He can do a lot with a little. They invite His miracle-working power into our lives and circumstances. And Isaiah 58:8 says that fasting from sinful behavior can bring healing and wholeness. If sin in your life has you struggling and feeling helpless and hopeless, take heart and know that the Lord can make a way where there seems to be none. Seek Him about how to apply this message to YOUR life today, and discover for yourself the blessed rewards of a different kind of fast.
Prayer: Lord, reveal to me the sins in my life that You want me to deal with at this time. Show me how to "sow to the Spirit" by fasting from those things and behaviors that hinder me from becoming all You want me to be. Help me to be creative in my fasting so that it will be exciting as well as effective. Thank You for showing Yourself faithful to Your promise by richly rewarding me!
- J. M. Farro