FASTING: The Challenge
I sat at the table in a state of near panic, what had I just agreed too, could I do it. I had just told my friend Ashley I was going to give up sweets and desserts for Lent. The worst part was that she was doing the same thing and told me she’d hold me accountable to that. No candy, no cookies, no brownies, no ice-cream…how was I going to survive. I’d heard of dad trying this before, did he make it? I wasn’t sure.
So I set out to fast for 40 days and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done…or should say that I tried to do…I didn’t make it and often found myself renewing the fast.
Fasting is Biblical
The truth is that Fasting is hard but it’s also recommended, even proscribed in scripture. In Matthew 6:16-18 we find Jesus speaking on Fasting as part of the sermon on the mount. Jesus starts off by saying how not fast, to not look gloomy and down about the fact that you are fasting, he says “Truly I say to you they have received their reward” (v 17). But instead Jesus instructs that we wash our faces and go about our days like we are not fasting at all. Like Silence, fasting is something often done in secret so that we do not draw attention to ourselves. The israelites fasted on a number of occasions, including times of war, illness and humility. (See Exodus)
Now that doesn’t mean that we can’t let people know that we are fasting, but we should never boast in our fasts. In fact boasting our works is never a good thing to do (see Romans 3&4). The point is to spend that day focusing on God, instead of what you have given up for your fast.
Christian George on Fasting
George writes to us; “Fasting returns the worship to God we offer to food. In our food saturated culture, I believe it is the single most neglected Discipline. And the most needed to, in my own limited experiences, fasting exposes my strenuous death grip on the things of this world. It’s teaching me to reevaluate my priorities, and how I spend my energy” (62).
George also points out that fasting requires us to lean more on God, in those times when we are ready to give up we really need to allow His strength to carry us through. Fasting is also a good time to experience God’s love because it allows us to worship Him without other things that may have become idols in our lives. It also allows us to love Him back because it is something that He wants us to practice, notice Jesus starts the passage in Matthew 6 with “When you Fast.”
Fasting Beyond Food.
Fasting doesn’t have to stop at food, it can be anything that might have become or has the potential to become one. Fasting can be from technology, it can be from listening to music (great time to practice silence). The point is that we should fast something in our lives, there’s nothing wrong with a good Facebook or Twitter fast so long as we spend that time with God. There’s a blessing to be found in turning off the cell phone for awhile and only using it for emergencies, something beautiful can be found in spending two months without Facebook like my friend Jayleene.
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Fasting is a tough discipline, I don’t know if we can ever really master it but it is one we need. It allows us to give back what we have taken from God, to surrender out lives and our futures and the things that hold us back from our relationship with Him. To evaluate where we are with Him and how the stuff of this world might affect that relationship we have with Him.
God Bless You
Jonathan David Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries
Serve Him with gladness
Come into His Presence with Singing”
The Good Discipline Series
Week #1: Good Discipline
Week #2: Good Discipline – Prayer
Week #3: Good Discipline – Obedience
Week #4: Good Discipline – Art
Week #5: Good Discipline – Journaling
Week #6: Good Discipline – Silence
Week #7: Good Discipline – Fasting
Week #8: Good Discipline – Vow Making
Week #9: Good Discipline – Labyrinth Walking
Week #10: Good Discipline – Meditation
Week #11: Good Discipline – Solitude
Week #12: Good Discipline – Practicing God’s Presence