When Dan asked me if I’d consider writing something on ” The City” about my experience with fasting, I was immediately both humbled and challenged. I told him, ” Um…well, to be honest, I don’t have a lot of experience with fasting. I have fasted on occasion, but not very often, so I can’t really write as an expert faster.” I was a bit ashamed. Here I am a Christian of maybe close to 40 years, and this is one of the Spiritual Disciplines I just don’t practice. If truth be told, just trying to eat healthy feels like fasting to me! I have been challenged to look at a few things like : Why don’t I fast? And what does Jesus say about fasting? Why does He want me to fast? How can I grow in this area?
I don’t practice fasting on any regular basis, because I just don’t think about it, and if I do think about it, I don’t want to do it because I like to eat! I don’t like to be hungry. I am happy to practice hospitality, or to worship the Lord, or hear a message, or spend time in prayer. But something about missing an entire meal scares me. And yet, fasting is a Spiritual Discipline (like sit ups, and push ups) that Jesus assumes we will do, as believers. He says, “When you fast…” not “if”.
Fasting isn’t a way to earn God’s approval or coerce Him to do something we want Him to do. It doesn’t make us more loved or accepted by God. It is however, a means of His grace- a way for us to experience His grace, His Presence, His Spirit. Because it goes so against our nature, our flesh, to deny our ourselves, I think we really need to be envisioned as to the whys of fasting. We need our eyes to be opened, our heart to see the value of taking time normally spent eating, and investing it in seeking the Lord, in hearing from Him, in crying out to Him, in drawing near to Him, with a whole heart, a less distracted and divided heart, a hungry heart that is saying, ” Lord, I want You more than I want food. To be with You, to seek Your face is more important than feeding my flesh. I am so serious about this, I’m going to not feed my hungry tummy. That’s how much I want You!”
Jesus gives us a promise, “When you fast…your Father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6: 16-18. It’s not to be done as a legalistic exercise, It is both a privilege and an opportunity to meet with God and experience His grace, to feast on God rather than food! Donald S. Whitney says, in his book Spiritual Disciplines for the Godly Life, ” Fasting hoists the sails of the soul in hopes of experiencing the gracious wind of God’s Spirit…fasting also adds a unique dimension to your spiritual life and helps you grow in Christlikeness in ways that are unavailable through any other means.”
Let’s go into this time of fasting, together, expectant and excited about what God has in store for us! Jesus promises us that it wont be wasted!
By Ruth Ballard.