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Fasting Afflicts the Soul (Ezra 8:21)

Introductory Thoughts

Most Christians would consider biblical fasting a very unpleasant undertaking. Considering the complexities of the affliction offered by fasting might better help to understand its value. In our passage, the people of God determined to fast so that they might afflict themselves before the Lord. Several other passages discuss this affliction in even more detail. Isaiah 58:3 and 5 describes the affliction as not merely an affliction of the flesh, but also an affliction of the soul. Additionally, we learn that fasting humbles (Psalm 35:13) and chastens (Psalm 69:10) the soul. Fasting involves much more than merely opposition to one’s flesh. Fasting directly afflicts, chastens, and humbles the soul. Perhaps this is why it is so difficult to fast and so beneficial to do so.

Devotional Thoughts

  • (For children): The Devil tested Jesus most when He was in the middle of a long fast. Afterward, Jesus was hungry and the Devil tried three more times to get Him to do wrong (Luke 4:1-2). Fasting is not pleasant, and the Devil does not want us to fast because it brings us closer to God.
  • (For everyone):  If fasting is so important, why do so few Christians fast? Is it possible that the Devil and our flesh oppose it because of its worth and value in the work of God?
  • With all of the evidence presented, do you still find yourself offering reasons as to why you cannot fast? What do you think is the real root of the problem?

Prayer Thoughts

  • Ask the Lord to show you the spiritual benefits of fasting.
  • Ask God to give you the necessary faith to obey Him in fasting.