Why Do We Exercise?

Why do we exercise?

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. - Matthew 6:16-18 ESV

I knew that would get your attention quicker than if I asked, “Why do we fast?”

The answer is pretty much the same to both questions. We do it to get our body and its desires pointed in the right direction. We exercise so that we can bring our bodies into better performance levels. It helps to lower our blood pressure. It helps to strengthen our heart muscle. It helps remove aches, pains, and stiffness, although it causes some when we first get started. It even improves brain acuity and, believe it or not, curbs our appetite.

Why do we fast? It is not to lose weight, because that is self-serving. It is not to show off how spiritually mature we are, because it is supposed to be done without anyone else knowing about it. It is not to earn God’s favor, because He loves us even if we never fast.

We fast to discipline our desires so that we can focus on God’s desire for our hearts. It is an exercise of spiritual discipline. We fast because Jesus gave us the example in Matthew 4. Jesus went into the Wilderness and fasted forty days and forty nights (Mt. 4:2). Matthew places this story right after the baptism of Jesus. Jesus is beginning His ministry having been publicly acknowledged by God as His loved Son in whom God is very pleased. (Mt. 3:17). From the mountain top of His baptism to the valley of the Wilderness and a face-to-face with the Tempter, now Jesus faces the question: are you going to follow your heavenly Father’s desires or succumb to the wishes of the tempter? Strengthened by the discipline of fasting, Jesus profoundly rejects the Tempter and moves out of the Wilderness into Galilee, where He preached the immanence of the Kingdom of God.

JOURNAL: Opendoor stands at the start of a new year, and we all need to ask:
  1. What is God calling us to do as a body?
  2. What is my place in that calling?
  3. Am I going to listen to God or accept the pitfalls of the Tempter?

Fasting disciplines us to draw our attention to God’s desires and to pushing our own away. Fasting calls us to be in a position of surrender and openness to hear the Holy Spirit as He speaks.

Please remember:
  1. We are not asking you to fast forty days and nights. Few, if any, of us are physically equipped to do that.
  2. What you fast and how much you fast is between you and God. Do not fail to try because you “bite off more than you can chew” (pun intended).
  3. It is not a magic formula that manipulates the voice of God. 
  4. Participate somehow so that you can experience the glory of God as you sacrifice for Him.

One physical fitness franchise advertises itself as a “judgment free zone” to entice people to join without feeling inadequate or embarrassed. The discipline of fasting is not designed to make you feel like less of a believer if you do not do it, but invites you to a deeper level of reliance on the Spirit of God. Join us without any fear of judgment. We are a family of Grace.

Prayer: Lord, I desire to take my faith in You to a deeper level. I am being told that fasting will help me do that. I am trusting that You will reveal to me how I should fast and that You will give me the faith to follow through. Prepare our Church family to get in the right position to hear Your Word for us in these days. Amen.

We'd love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments what God is speaking to you as you read these devotionals. If you haven't already subscribed to receive our devotional emails right to your inbox, hit the subscribe button below and invite your family and friends to subscribe as well! Thank you for being a part of our Opendoor Devotional Community. We appreciate you!
Posted in
Tagged with

1 Comment

Yolanda James - January 18th, 2024 at 6:03am

This helps me to understand the importance of exercise. It is good physically, mentally, and spiritually----all goes hand-to-hand with fasting. No one likes to be uncomfortable but sometimes it's that state in which it is necessary for growth.....fasting (spiritually exercising) is exactly what I'm realizing this does for me, to shed off unwanted pounds (things distracting me from hearing the voice of God), even the physical weight. Like the pruning of a plant, I need to rid the things that stunt my growth in order to be all God has for me. No, it doesn't feel the best but it's what I need in order for change to place in my life.

Thank Pastor Scott!