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“Fasting — in this fast-paced, filled-with-distraction, feed-me-now world — can provide just the slow focus we need in order to more effectively pray and meditate on God’s truths.”
November 21, 2017
I don’t often hear evangelical Christians in Los Angeles talk about the spiritual discipline of fasting. Maybe it’s because we think fasting is more for Catholics or Muslims. Or maybe we don’t talk about it because we’re afraid people will think we’re too conservative or weird. Or maybe many of you just have really good fasting-faces and only God knows your secret (as in Matthew 6:18).
Whatever the reason we aren’t talking about it, Thanksgiving seems as good a time as any to at least be thinking about it. So many of us are focused on preparing for feasts full of food, family and football...a relaxed day of American indulgence. But this year, it feels like a few reminders are in order, for me especially, and maybe for you, too — before we dive into all that pumpkin pie.
Because the truth is, while I have fasted before — and tasted the reward of a closer relationship with God, and seen prayers explicitly and exquisitely answered as a result — it has been a while. And by that I mean, I haven’t really deprived myself from anything of significance because of Him, specifically and on purpose, for months.
And the things I’m feasting on, I’m certainly not doing so in His name. In fact, despite various attempts at suppressing my appetite for my (aptly-named) news and social media feeds, I continue to consume them. I wake up in the morning, sometimes pray or read my Bible first, but more often, just wait an unspecified amount of time that feels vaguely devout...then get to gorging.
I’ve got the bread of life sitting right here at the table, and I go for the Fruity Pebbles instead.
What would it look like if I woke up starving for Jesus and His news, rather than hungering for the world’s news and all its other voices? How can I remind myself, instead of clamoring to be heard, to just listen? How can I stay focused on His face and all His grace and the very fact that He has saved me?
In the book Hunger for God, John Piper says that when we fast, we “make war on the deceitfulness of our desires and declare the preciousness of prayer and the all-surpassing worth of God” (page 48).
Whether it’s from food or smartphones or something else — practicing intentional fasting is a valuable weapon in the battles we wage against both Self and Satan. Fasting can expose our dependencies and unseat our idols. And because it naturally disrupts our comfort, it may reveal routines we didn't even realize were so mindless (for me, snacking, or clicking on certain apps or websites.)
Fasting — in this fast-paced, filled-with-distraction, feed-me-now world — can provide just the slow focus we need in order to more effectively pray and meditate on God’s truths. It’s a great way to “be still and know,” and to acknowledge that He will one day be exalted among the whole earth (Psalm 46:10).
Finally, fasting is an opportunity to surrender to all that He has done before and all that He has yet planned — to tell Him, “I love and need you more than I love or need anything. Everything is yours, and so am I” (Matthew 4:4).
So if you are grieving, or unsure, or desperate, or tired, or overwhelmed, or feeling swallowed up by the world, or feeling stuffed with the world, or sliding down a slippery slope, or maybe just feeling pretty darn comfortable...it might be time for a fast. Conversely, if you’re celebrating, or certain, or glad, or grateful...it’s perfectly acceptable to feast, too. Just remember to do it all to His glory (1 Cor 10:31).
As for me, because I’m all of the above, I’m off to — literally — get that proverbial pumpkin pie in the oven, delete a few more apps from my phone, and thank the Lord for Thanksgiving.
“The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.” (Romans 14:6)
*For further thoughts on fasting, check out the articles here and here.
Amy is a member of Cornerstone, Wife to Dan, and mother to Penn, Indie, and Cali.
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