Fasting is common to all the religions of this Earth. Moslems, Buddhists, Christians and even the occultists do fast. But in line with my popular adage, “Nemo dat quod non habet” (meaning – No one can give you what he doesn’t have), I can only focus on Christian teachings because I do not have the others!
The Bible is emphatic on fasting. We have a detailed teaching on fasting and how we should conduct ourselves during fasting in Isaiah chapter fifty-eight. In this chapter, we are taught not to oppress people but feed the hungry and conduct ourselves in humility and avoid all forms of strife with our neighbors and then we shall truly be fasting.
We can talk about fasting in the following other instances:-
Jesus spent 40 days in the desert fasting and praying before going into His ministry while at the end of the fast, He was tempted by the enemy (Matthew 4:2-10)
David fasted and prayed for forgiveness after his adulterous life (Psalm 51)
Nehemiah entered into fasting and prayers for the children of Israel because they were in a time of trouble (Nehemiah 1:4)
Daniel fasted and prayed for three weeks even at the point the Prince of Persia blocked his prayers (Daniel 10:13)
Paul and Barnabas fasted and prayed before presenting leaders in the church (Acts 13:1-3)
There’s a close relationship between fasting and praying because fasting is a time for you to draw nearer to God. Spending time with God in prayer allows us to hear from Him and discern things that may be troubling you. You could also get an answer to mysteries of your predicaments.
Can we then apply this to our finances too?
What is a Financial Fasting?
The Bible doesn’t limit fasting only to food and drinks. Anything that can be given up temporarily so that we can focus our full attention on God can be viewed as a fast. In our world economy, this is called austerity measure. Others call it frugality. It means you try hard to save costs by cutting down on unnecessary expenditure while you focus on your picture in terms of your goals/priorities!
Paul references how a husband and wife might abstain from being together for a time (yes, sexually) so they can devote themselves to prayer. So while the Bible doesn’t have a section devoted to a ‘Financial Fast,’ I think the principles can be applied to personal financial and business circumstances.
We could identify the following and apply them in relation to fasting.
- Identify Needs and Wants.
Necessities are basic needs that you cannot live without. Make sure these are covered all the time. Water, food, electricity/power, gas, etc. are considered as basic necessities. Luxuries are wants but not needs. Wants are things you can live without but they are good for life in any case. You don’t need a speed boat, yacht or horse riding. You might need a vehicle for personal use but that can also be outsourced (i.e. use a taxi or bus).
Go to the market with your list of items to buy. Do not be buying on impulse. Do not be buying by sight but buy only when you need them.
Avoid cooking in excess and later throw them into the dustbins.
You need to check your domestic budget and buy food items in bulk. Eating is not reserved for one day. Why do you buy a tin of rice or milk if you can buy in bulk in order to enjoy some discounts?
- Avoid Carrying Cash Along.
Strike out anything that does not fall within your needs.
Avoid carrying money in your purse/pockets which you do not need. Money is a spiritual thing; once you have it on you, it begins to invite things to be purchased even if you do not plan for them.
This measure will also help you to avoid pick-pockets and thieves around the shopping centers and obscure corners.
While you’re making these financial sacrifices, take a moment to reflect on all that God has blessed you with and learn to be content with what you have. Don’t be tempted to complain about what you can’t buy during the financial fast. Instead, be thankful for all the things you do have.
Use the extra cash being generated from your savings to reach ministry work by giving out in a church, a charity home and needy in your community. It could be you want to look after a family member in secondary school, college or adopt a child to take care of.
To know about the benefits of giving, read this article/chapter on GIVING.
Take note that the more you give to the poor the more you lend money to God and He shall pay you interest on it (Proverbs 19:17).
- Grow In Prayer and Faith
Throughout your financial fast, prayer should be at the cornerstone of all your decisions. Yes, as Christians you should engage with God as much as possible – but fasting should involve a focused time of prayer to seek God’s Will and His direction in your life. It could be that business deal, that job you are being interviewed for, that promotion or anything personal that you want to seek God’s guidance on.
Make all your supplications and desires to God to guide your steps. It is not everything that you would get when you pray to the Lord. This is because at the time you are asking for that thing, it is not the right time for you to get it or there is another and better alternative for you. With forbearance, you shall surely draw strength for supplications and God shall surely show Himself to you.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God – Philippians 4:6