Scriptures on Fasting
"O Lord, may I have this heart!"
2 Chronicles 20:3
Jehoshaphat became afraid, and he decided to ask the Lord what to do. He announced a time of fasting for everyone in Judah.
Then Esther sent this answer to Mordecai: “Mordecai, go and get all the Jews in Susa together, and fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days and nights. I and my women servants will fast too. After we fast, I will go to the king. I know it is against the law to go to the king if he didn’t call me, but I will do it anyway. If I die, I die.”
“I will tell you the kind of day I want—a day to set people free. I want a day that you take the burdens off others. I want a day when you set troubled people free and you take the burdens from their shoulders. I want you to share your food with the hungry. I want you to find the poor who don’t have homes and bring them into your own homes. When you see people who have no clothes, give them your clothes! Don’t hide from your relatives when they need help.” If you do these things, your light will begin to shine like the light of dawn. Then your wounds will heal. Your “Goodness” will walk in front of you, and the Glory of the Lord will come following behind you. Then you will call to the Lord, and he will answer you. You will cry out to him, and he will say, “Here I am.”
"O Lord, please heal me so that I will resist this heart!"
They say, “We fast to show honor to you. Why don’t you see us? We starve our bodies to show honor to you. Why don’t you notice us?” But God says, “You do things to please yourselves on those special days of fasting. And you punish your servants, not your own bodies. You are hungry, but not for food. You are hungry for arguing and fighting, not for bread. You are hungry to hit people with your evil hands. This is not the way to fast if you want your prayers to be heard in heaven! Do you think I want to see people punish their bodies on those days of fasting? Do you think I want people to look sad and bow their heads like dead plants? Do you think I want people to wear mourning clothes and sit in ashes to show their sadness? That is what you do on your days of fasting. Do you think that is what the Lord wants?
This is what the Lord says about the people of Judah: “The people of Judah really love to leave me. They don’t stop themselves from leaving me. So now the Lord will not accept them. Now he will remember the evil they do. He will punish them for their sins.” Then the Lord said to me, “Jeremiah, don’t pray for good things to happen to the people of Judah. They might begin to fast and pray to me, but I will not listen to their prayers. Even if they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings to me, I will not accept them. I will destroy the people of Judah with war. I will take away their food, and they will starve. And I will destroy them with terrible diseases.”
There were some people who thought they were very good and looked down on everyone else. Jesus used this story to teach them: “One time there was a Pharisee and a tax collector. One day they both went to the Temple to pray. The Pharisee stood alone, away from the tax collector. When the Pharisee prayed, he said, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not as bad as other people. I am not like men who steal, cheat, or commit adultery. I thank you that I am better than this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I give a tenth of everything I get!’ The tax collector stood alone too. But when he prayed, he would not even look up to heaven. He felt very humble before God. He said, ‘O God, have mercy on me. I am a sinner!’ I tell you, when this man finished his prayer and went home, he was right with God. But the Pharisee, who felt that he was better than others, was not right with God. People who make themselves important will be made humble. But those who make themselves humble will be made important.”