Years ago I preached a couple of messages back to back that I entitled, “The Forgotten Doctrine.” I am sure that title could bring a number of things to your mind: the doctrines of Hell, sanctification, separation, angels and their ministry, joy, and a host of others.
Many of us have a certain theme that seems to be our guiding grail. For me, it is world evangelism, and for others, it is something else. Of course we still throw in other subjects now and then and eventually cover most subjects during the course of a year (unless you are like me—retired and only preach on missions!).
However, there is one doctrine that is on the bottom of the list for most, and seldom, if ever, gets preached or taught—the doctrine of fasting. Somehow this doctrine gets relegated to the Old Testament ceremonial law or some deep recess of our preaching and is treated as though it doesn’t apply today.
Another reason it doesn’t get preached, and I hesitate to say this, is for the same reason that prayer and financial sacrifice don’t get mentioned very often, and that is because we don’t practice it ourselves! After all, when was the last time you fasted for a day, three days, or a week? Yes, it is indicting to me as well!
How do you handle heavy burdens? How do you handle the trials, struggles, and disappointments of life? What do you do about habits that have plagued you for years—anger, lust, overeating, drugs, backbiting, slothfulness, bad attitude, unfaithfulness, or a myriad of others? How badly do you want revival in your church?
This article will not cover the subject completely, but let me give you my favorite verse dealing with the subject, and perhaps later you can study the subject for yourself (if you have the courage!). Isaiah 58:6 says, “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?”
I hesitate to leave this verse out in the middle without the surrounding context, but study it yourself and you will be blessed. Please notice that God says fasting is the way to “loose the bands of wickedness.” This offers hope to all who are going through struggles with bad habits. It should encourage all of us to know that we don’t have to be trapped or controlled by this habit; we can break it with the grace of God and fasting!
Isaiah 58:6 says that fasting is “to undo the heavy burdens.” Praise the Lord for that! The next time (which may be now) you start feeling like your spiritual shoulders are being weighted down from the pressures of life or ministry, and you have thoughts of defeat or discouragement, then maybe it is time to fast!
With the promise of a verse like this, perhaps relief is just around the corner (after the fast). If you want that “yoke” of bondage broken take it to the Lord in prayer and fasting. Maybe your situation is like the man with the son who had a dumb spirit in him, and Jesus said, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29b).
Preacher, you just might want to preach on this subject soon. Perhaps someone in your church is in dire need of this “forgotten doctrine.”