Why fasting anyway?
Fasting reveals the measure of food’s mastery over us (or tv, phone, entertainment, other bodily pleasures, or whatever we submit to again and again).
Christian fasting is:
- The hunger for more of God
- A preference for God
- A test to see what desires control us
We tend to make food the issue of fasting but the truth is the issue is not food per se.
The issue is anything and everything that is, or can be, a substitute for God.
"In Scripture, fasting is typically a time of abstaining from food for the purpose of devoting one’s self and one’s time to the Lord. We should not think of fasting as a way to get something from God. We fast as one means of drawing closer to God. You become keenly aware of your dependence on God when you are very hungry. This is designed to stir us toward God. But be careful of your motives. Do not think things like, “This will help me lose weight or purify my system.” Fasting is to purify the believer’s heart, to spend time focusing on God, to learn to deny the physical in order to grow the spiritual." ~Keith R. Krell
What does this say about when we choose not to fast?
16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,
18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Notice that Jesus didn't say IF you fast, He said WHEN you fast. Jesus is making the assumption that as disciples we adopt the practice of fasting as a part of our Christian life.
He warns us that we are not to go around with heads down, weak looking so that others may notice that we are fasting and therefore think we are holy. Jesus is saying we are to take a shower, smell good, wear a smile, and behave normally if not better than normal while on a fast. For fasting is not about how we look on the outside. Fasting is about what we feed ourselves in secret.
Forgive me, I pray, for trying to satisfy my hunger for you with things other than you.
Forgive me for filling my tummy, my time and my attention with things that keep me hungry.
Help me as I identify a time, a meal, a habit, or a season where I resign my fleshly wants for a greater preference for you, your word and your Spirit.
Help me be the person you want me to be, not the person others expect or "need" me to be.
In Jesus' name. Amen.
Oswald Chambers (1874–1917) wrote,
“My worth to God in public is what I am in private.”
Who are you when no one is looking?
What do you feed yourself in secret?
1 Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.