In scripture, we find the theme of fasting repeatedly. The topic of money is also one of the more addressed issues. When it comes to the committed, habitual practices of fasting and giving in the modern church can be quite a different experience. Jesus taught that his house was to be a house of prayer. Yet, prayer remains quite a growth step for me. A few years ago I was so fed up with my pedantic prayer life that I committed an entire year to learn how to thrive in a vibrant prayer life. While I have always sought to strive to be more and more generous, it has only been in the past few years that I have connected the activities of prayer, fasting, and giving. Little did I know the Bible had actually connected these long ago.
First, let me mention that most churches have poor strategies when it comes to growing the spiritual habit of generosity. Generosity is often confused with stewardship or is redefined to fundraising. Pastors, there is a lot of freedom when you can begin to link the spiritual benefits of giving to the individual believer. Generosity is good for the giver. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than receive.” Generosity has nothing to do with a financial need or crisis in the church. Giving is a healthy habit, just like reading the Bible or prayer. Pastors should never be fundraisers and stewardship should be taught as stewardship. Generosity is a welcomed topic because giving is good and feels good for everyone.
Second, confidence rises when we press into the biblical passages that connect fasting and giving. Now, fasting is engaged many times in scripture for a variety of reasons. It can be used to seek God’s wisdom, presence, or protection. It can also be practiced to release generosity. Two critical Bible passages come to mind. One in the Old Testament and the other in the New. Isaiah 58 calls foul on the people of God because when they fast they still live in contentious relationships and oppress people. Relational generosity is far from them. Isaiah 58:7 makes it clear, God’s fast calls us to share our bread, open our homes to the poor, and clothe the naked. You can’t fast and not be generous. It’s hypocritical and God rejects it.
In Matthew 6, Jesus himself in the Sermon on the Mount strongly connected fasting, prayer, and giving. All three activities are to be done privately, with cheerful faces, and will be rewarded. He closes Matthew 6 with clear instructions related to how our heart’s treasures can lure our faith into troubling places. Money, life, and passion must all be directed towards our loving Father. Fasting and giving become critical to protecting our hearts and lives.
Finally, here are some practical insights to how fasting and giving interact to help grow personal faith. Fasting puts a distance between the influences of the flesh and draws us closer to the influence of the Holy Spirit. Generous people are both quick to hear the voice of God and respond boldly. Fasting increases our ability to hear God as well as putting us in a place to respond with more boldness. Both fasting and generosity call us to release the power or even break the bondage of earthly things. Our bodies depend upon food and our hearts can depend upon money in unhealthy ways. Spiritual bondages are broken via fasting and generosity. Both are rewarding. While fasting and generosity can easily be avoided, their experiences can be equally intoxicating. Jesus clearly taught that both practices are crazy rewarding. God rewards fasting and generosity! I guess you have heard the phrase “you can’t out-give God.” Fasting and generosity are some of the proofs.
If I were to tell you that God had rewards, 100% guaranteed, for you and that these rewards extended to your family members, church, and community, what would you do? Who does not want God’s promised rewards? I plead with pastors, resign as a fundraiser today. Walk away from the silence of fasting, prayer, and generosity, if that is where you are. Chase the promises of God for your church. If you want to learn more, you may check our resources on Soul Generosity at lifeway.com/generosity. Our digital giving platform, coaching, and resources are a welcomed contrast to church fundraising techniques.