Pastor Joey Bonifacio on fasting:
The Pharisees’ idea of fasting was to deprive the flesh in order to strengthen the spirit. They were focusing on the wrong thing. Jesus was telling them that fasting is not about depriving yourself. Rather, it is about desiring [Jesus] more.
The idea of preferring Jesus over anything else baffles the mind. I must admit that for the longest time I thought of fasting as nothing more than legalistic self denial: to beat the flesh so the spirit can be strengthened, to deny my cravings so I could tell my body that he is not the most important part of me.
At the back of my mind, I like the idea of fasting because I was hoping it would help me kill ungodly desires that lurk in the corners of my soul and perhaps get quick answers to my big prayers. The problem with this line of thinking is that I was trying to rid myself of sin not by the grace of God but by the power of self denial. It was like I was trying to create a version of godliness that springs from my own resolve, not from anything that Jesus did on the cross. Obviously, this is not from the gospel and it puts me in league with all the rest of Eastern religions. This idea is not Christian at all.
In his book, Joey Bonifacio clarifies that fasting is about desiring Jesus more than anything else. In other words, fasting is subjecting everything else to the primary need to commune with Jesus. Nothing else comes close. In the whole duration of the fast, everything in life is relegated to the periphery. Jesus takes center stage. He gets all the passion, all the attention, all the focus, all the energy.
Victory people, as we prepare our hearts for our annual prayer and fasting this January, let us have a quick heart check. Are you going to fast to get quick answers to your prayers or to have an extended time with Jesus? Will your fasting be out of compulsion or delight? Will you be doing it to get a blessing or to commune with the blessor? Is it to twist the arm of God for a year-long favor or to hear first hand about the direction He has for your life?