Nineteen Reasons for Fasting (Part 2)

4.  Evidence of Repentance and Contriteness of Heart.
Teshuvah in Hebrew and tauba in Arabic describe repentance as “a turn” or “return.” The words suggest that we have turned from a path of error back to the path of God. The change of direction rejects a sinful reality and adopts the sacred path of obeying G-d.

Fasting complements repentance by helping us recognize our deviation and offering a return to right conduct. It prods guilt, increases awareness of errors and manifests sincere regret, sorrow, and remorse — signs of true repentance.

When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting, it became my reproach. [Psalm 69:10(NIV)].

Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting. When my prayers returned to me unanswered. [Psalm 35:13 (NIV)].

When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the LORD. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the LORD.” And Samuel was leader of Israel at Mizpah. [1 Samuel 7:6 (NIV)].

“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” [Joel 2:12 (NIV)].

When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly. [1 Kings 21:27].

5.  Petition God 
Along with prayer and charity, fasting is one of the three essential acts of worship offering access into the Divine Reality.   All three devotional efforts possess physical and spiritual attributes that work on the body, the mind and the soul.

They transcend physical and intellectual dimensions, allowing glimpses of God’s mercy and power. As Tertullian noted, if practiced with the right intention, fasting makes one “a friend of God.” [Tertullian, On Fasting].

David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground. [2 Samuel 12:16 (NIV)].

So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. [Daniel 9:3(NIV)].

There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. [Ezra 8:21].

So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer. [Ezra 8:23 (NIV)].

And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. [Jonah 3:5 (ESV)].

6.  Refuge in Sorrow, Grief or Fear
Fasting lets our body and mind feel the sorrow of your soul. When we cry, our tears express the state of our soul. When we fast, our entire body symbolically cries. Our fasting and our tears evince our lament, demonstrating sorrow and commiserating with others.

They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the LORD and the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. [2 Samuel 1:12 (NIV)].

“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” [Esther 4:16 (NIV)].

Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar.” Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah [2 Chronicles 20:2-3 (NIV)].

They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. [Nehemiah 1:3-4 (NIV)].

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Cultivating Piety with Abstinence and Faith