I read a quote by John Piper the other day, saying “the absence of our fasting is the measure of our contentment with the absence of Christ.” Woah! Strong words! It made me excited to explore the discipline of fasting and how it really impacts our walk with the Lord. But what exactly is fasting?
Made to crave the will of God.
Fasting is practiced by many in the Old and New Testament, including Jesus. One of my favorite examples is in John 4, when the disciples were urging Jesus to eat, to which Jesus responded: “I have food to eat that you don’t know about … My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work.” (John 4:32-32) This convicts me every time! Just like I crave and need physical food, I must crave and need to do the will of God. It must fulfill me, enliven me, and drive me. Just like I might rush to my favorite restaurant or to the grocery store when the pantries empty, I want to rush into the presence of God and rush to do His bidding.
American culture, which I have grown up in, has an undeniable obsession with food. We take pictures of it and dedicate Instagram accounts and TV shows to it. We look forward to the new coffee shop or taco place opening up. Some even travel the world to try new and exotic delicacies. Those of us who are particularly devoted to satisfying our palettes even have a title: foodies! While I don’t believe that posting pictures of a favorite dish or getting excited about a new restaurant is inherently bad, I am often convicted, wondering what all could I accomplish if I dedicated that same energy towards my relationship with Jesus. If I read my Bible or shared Christ with someone as consistently as I eat. By fasting from food, I am reminded of what it means to truly desire something important to my survival and reminded to pray to God that He gives me an even greater desire for Him and to do His will.
Fasting is more about god than it is about food.
Fasting is all about redirecting our attention to God. Some fast from social media, television, certain kinds of music, or even a significant other. Because of my slight screen addiction, I choose to give up media whenever I fast from food. Fasting is a humbling discipline. It opens our eyes to the things of this world that take captive our attention and deter us from our commitment to Christ.
the power of god in fasting.
God empowers us through fasting. Because it helps redirect our hearts to God, it can also build us up to resist temptation, walk in greater authority, and impact the lives of those around us. While many fast regularly, maybe weekly, Scripture also gives examples of Christians who would fast before an important event or when they felt a need for God’s direction. Jesus is our example: he fasted for 40 days before starting His ministry.
The lesson Scripture is teaching me is that fasting is crucial to the Christian walk, even though it seems to be less popular than other disciplines. What are we missing in our walk with Jesus that we could gain by following His example and seeking the Lord through prayer AND fasting? In the early church, Christians would fast twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays. If fasting is already a serious part of your Christian practice, then that is so awesome! Thank you for setting an example for the rest of us! If not, I offer you the same challenge I give myself, to regularly fast each week and to use the extra time in prayer and listening to God. The Lord is seeking to move in each of us. It’s our responsibility to position our hearts through practices like fasting so that we can be prepared to move when He calls.
FAST WITH VISION. Write down the WHY behind your fast and keep it before you.
SCHEDULE YOUR FAST. Decide on a time and a duration. Put it on your calendar so you can set apart that time and not be overly busy while fasting.
WORSHIP & PRAY WHILE YOU FAST. Saying no to something is not enough. Say YES to seeking God. Use your lunch break to spend time in worship and prayer. When you usually watch TV, go get away with God and read Scripture.
BREAK YOUR FAST. End your fast in thanksgiving and write down the things God showed you during your fast. If He highlighted sin in your life, confess it. If you received any revelation or encouragement, write it down.
Fasting in the Scripture: an appendix of scriptures on fasting from Bible.org
Fasting for Beginners by David Mathis
A Hunger for God by John Piper