Week 9 Discussion Questions and Bible Study
Study Passage Matthew 6:16-18
Further Study Passages
It will be best for each participant to have all these passages bookmarked before the study begins (so as not to spend time finding them during the study) and to read as many different translations as possible. Isaiah 58:1-12; Luke18:11-12; Matthew 4:1-3; Acts 9:9; Ezra 10:6; Esther 4:16; Daniel 10:3; Jeremiah 36:9; Zechariah 7:5; Leviticus 23:27; Matthew 9:14-15; Matthew 6:16-18; Zechariah 7:4-5; Acts 13:2; Psalm 69:10 & 2 Chronicles 7:14; Ezra 8:23 & Isaiah 58:4&9; Jonah 3:5&10; 2 Samuel 12:15-23; Daniel 9:2, 3, 21 & 22; Joel 2:12; Matthew 17:21; Judges 20
1. Do you think fasting is a commonly practiced spiritual discipline in the life of the twenty-first century church? Why do you think this is so? Do you think fasting was a commonly practiced spiritual discipline in the life of the first century church? Why do you think this was so? For personal reflection: Is fasting part of your spiritual discipline and part of the spiritual life of your society?
2. Read Isaiah 58:1-12. What is this reading about? What does their fasting cause? Why do you think this is so? What does God require (vs 6, 7, 9 & 10)? Does this sound familiar (think back to the discussion on acts of righteousness)? What do these verses say regarding the balance between acts of mercy and acts of piety? What does God promise if they fast properly? Read Luke18:11-12. How often did the Pharisee fast? What error does the Pharisee make?
3. Types of fasting
- Read Matthew 4:1-3. How does Satan tempt Jesus? Bearing in mind that thirst is a more potent desire than hunger, why doesn’t Satan tempt Jesus to make water flow from a rock? What is the normal fast?
- Read Acts 9:9; Ezra 10:6; Esther 4:16. What do you notice? What type of fast is this? What should you do if you sense God calling you to this type of fast?
- Read Daniel 10:3. What type of fast is this? For whom is this fast ideally suited?
- Scripture also speaks of regular and special fasts. Read Jeremiah 36:9; Zechariah 7:5; Leviticus 23:27. What type of fast is each of these? When or why would we call a public fast? Does your church have a regular day of fasting? If not, what would be the best way to start such a practice?
4. Who should fast?
- Read Matthew 9:14-15. Discuss why John’s disciples ask the question they ask. Why don’t Jesus’disciples fast? Discuss when they will fast.
- Read Matthew 6:16-18. Who is Jesus talking to? Discuss Jesus use of the word “when.” Who should fast?
5. Fast unto God
- Read Zechariah 7:4-5. Why should we fast? Is it possible to fast for the wrong reasons? Discuss some “wrong reasons” to fast.
6. Benefits of fasting
The fact that Jesus fasted and expects us to should be enough reason for us to embrace this discipline. Nonetheless, Scripture mentions several other “reasons” to fast. Read the following readings (reading each from the KJV, RSV, GNB and NIV will be very helpful) and discuss the benefits or results of fasting:
- Acts 13:2 (notice what accompanied their fasting)
- Psalm 69:10 (now read 2 Chronicles 7:14 & Matthew 5:4 in the context of fasting)
- Ezra 8:23 & Isaiah 58:4&9
- Jonah 3:5&10
- 2 Samuel 12:15-23
- Daniel 9:2, 3, 21 & 22
- Joel 2:12
- Matthew 17:21
- Judges 20:26 (reading the whole chapter is necessary to see the true value of fasting in this story)
Your discussion could have led you to the following reasons for fasting: as an act of worship; for humility; to be heard on high; to change God’s mind, but remember, sometimes God will not change his mind(2 Samuel 12:15-23); for revelation; to deepen the expression of an act of repentance; for deliverance from evil spirits; for guidance.
7. Mission Pillars
As you think of the four mission pillars, discuss at least one role that fasting can play in each of them.
© 2006 JohnWesleyProject.com