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Fasting Day 2: Set Your Mind (Part Two)

set your mind

Here at the beginning of Pursuit 21, it’s important that you set your mind regarding a few key aspects of your fast. Your mind is the battlefield on which the fight of this fast is won or lost. So it’s important that you make a few vital determinations in advance—determinations that will prepare you and equip you to win the battle.

Part One of “Set Your Mind” listed four determinations you must make:

  1. Set your mind and determine that you will not be afraid
  2. Set your mind regarding the fact you are going to fast
  3. Make up your mind about the type and duration of your fast
  4. Determine you’ll not judge the results of your fast prematurely

In addition to these four things, you must set your mind regarding the following:

5. Set Your Mind to Answer Three Questions from
the Outset

#1. What are my motives behind the fast?

While fasting often results in weight loss, weight loss cannot be your motive for fasting. The fact that you overate during the holiday season and want a good way to shed a few pounds is not a viable motive for a Biblical fast. In the Bible, fasting is doing without food for a spiritual purpose.

Just as fasting to lose weight should never be our motive, neither should fasting to impress others.

“All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD” (Prov. 16:2).

“Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Mt.6:17-19).

Are you fasting out of duty? Or a desire to lose weight? Or out of pride—to impress others? What is your motive for fasting?

#2. What specific needs am I fasting about?

Why are you fasting? Is it for spiritual renewal, for financial provision, for your children or other family members? Is there a problem you need God to solve? Do you want to know God’s will or need to be delivered from a crisis?

In the Bible, every time people fasted, it was for a specific need. Sometimes they fasted because they were in trouble, or because they needed a financial breakthrough, or they fasted and sought God for their children, or because they needed direction or wisdom, or to repent and return to God. Never did they fast and not know why they were fasting. It was clear to everyone on every fast in Bible why they were fasting.

If God came and asked you, “What are the top three things you want Me to do in response to your fast?” you should know the answer.

Fast with a purpose! Get straight in your heart why you’re fasting … and “press on toward the goal” (Phil. 3:14).

#3. Am I determined to minister to Lord during this fast?

Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers … While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:1-2)

It was “while they were worshiping the Lord and fasting”… that God told them to set Paul and Barnabus apart.

Fasting is not about what we can get from God but about what we can give Him. Fasting is a time of crying out, “I want to minister to You, God!”

In Zechariah, God asked:

“When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?” (Zechariah 7:5)

Are you fasting for God?

It’s not about what you can get from God, but about how you can worship Him and minister to Him during the fast.

If God saw your heart today, would He ask, “Is it really for Me that you’re fasting?”

We can go on a fast with so many many personal motives, agendas, and desires other than fasting to God and ministering to Him.

6. Set Your Mind to Gain Understanding and Humble Yourself Before God

Daniel’s twenty-one day fast is recorded in Daniel chapter ten:

“At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over” (Daniel 10:2-3).

An angel was sent in response to Daniel’s fasting and prayer. He told Daniel:

“Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them (Daniel 10:12).

Fasting is a way that we set our mind to gain understanding and to humble ourselves before God.

Fasting to Gain Understanding

It seems it would be a given that engaging in a Christian fast would automatically cause one to gain understanding. But this isn’t necessarily the case.

A Christian fast is supposed to:

A natural result of all of these things would be that we would gain understanding—understanding about:

  • What sins we need to repent of
  • Who God is
  • What His word says
  • What He asks of us
  • What His will is for our lives
  • Our causes for fasting and what steps, if any, God would have us take concerning them.

But if we don’t rightly practice fasting, the things listed above that are supposed to occur when we fast—things that lead to understanding—won’t occur. Therefore, when we don’t rightly practice fasting, we forfeit gaining any understanding through it.

We fail to rightly practice fasting when we:

  • Fast with incorrect motives—to impress others, or to lose weight, to achieve merit with God.
  • Fast in an attempt to twist God’s arm—to get God to do something for us, or to make Him answer our prayer. In this sense, we view fasting as a way to control God and produce the outcome we desire from Him.
  • Don’t make time to pray. If we don’t make time to pray, then we’re just doing without food, which is a diet, not a Christian fast.
  • Don’t internalize God’s word.

So set your mind to rightly practice fasting … and therefore, gain understanding.

Fasting to Humble Yourself Before God

The primary purpose of fasting is self-humbling. Fasting is a scriptural means chosen by God for us to humble ourselves before Him. Throughout the Bible God required His people to humble themselves before Him.

“Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4).

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).

“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12)

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10).

Notice that in all of these scriptures, humbling ourselves is a responsibility placed on us. It is not a responsibility that we can give to God. If we pray, “God humble me,” our prayer is not scriptural. God’s reply in scripture is always humble yourself.

Fasting is a scriptural means chosen by God for us to humble ourselves before Him. Fasting was the way David humbled himself before God:

“I humbled myself with fasting…” Psalm 35:13

7. Set Your Mind on Things Above

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).

There are some things we should desire more than food. Set your mind to taste and see Lord is good. Set your mind to seek Him first, to hunger after righteousness … and you will be filled!

Questions:

  • What are your motives for fasting?
  • What are your causes for fasting? What needs are you fasting about?
  • In what ways are you ministering to God during your fast?
  • In what ways are you rightly practicing fasting?
  • What would you like to gain understanding about? 
  • On what things above are you setting your mind?
  • What specific actions are you taking to set your mind on things above (scripture memory / meditation, worship, prayer, service, etc)? 

 

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