Zechariah 7:5 Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?
As recorded in Zechariah, the people of God came to the Lord desiring to know if they should continue weeping and fasting as they had done for many years. In response, the Lord asked the people if they ever really fasted UNTO Him. In other words, were they fasting for simply prideful reasons, to be seen of men, or really fasting unto the Lord? The motive of fasting is also addressed in Matthew chapter 6. Christians should never fast in order to please men or to draw praise and attention to themselves. Fasting should be a private matter between the believer and the Lord. The benefits gained by fasting are lost when the motives are improper or impure. Those behaving hypocritically will ensure that people know they are fasting, desiring the praise of men; whereas, the truly humble seek only to please the Lord.
- (For children): Biblical fasting is a decision by a person to go without food and physical pleasures for a set period of time. It lets God know that the person wants to draw closer to Him and is concerned enough to take this important step. The person should talk to God often during the time of the fast.
- (For everyone): Why do you fast? When you fast, do you hope that others will find out and praise you for your devotion to the Lord? Why do you think this is so?
- What is the proper motive for fasting? What are some reasons why we might fast? How can we ensure that we fast for the right reasons? Remember, it is not wrong for people to find out that you are fasting; it is wrong for you to use the fast as a means for serving your flesh in any way.
- Ask the Lord to help your motives to be pure.
- Ask the Lord to help you avoid the actions of a hypocrite.