Read His Words Before Ours!
Here’s a fun confession for you: I sometimes wish I was a nun. Granted, this desire tends to flare up in those especially chaotic moments of life. You know the ones: all the kids are crying, the oven timer is beeping, the dog just ripped open his food bag… In moments like these, the idea of dedicating my life to quiet servitude sounds very appealing.
While God clearly had other plans for my life, I do find myself longing to dwell in His presence amid the mundane. But with all the distractions of work and motherhood, I have struggled to discover a way to do this. How can I dwell in His presence while still being fully present here on Earth?
I believe these two spheres collide within the practice of fasting. When we fast, our physical needs and longing ushers our souls into His presence; and it is in His presence all our needs and longings are met.
May I share one more confession with you? Until writing this article, I never fully understood or practiced fasting; so please know, I am not an expert. However, what I share with you below has changed my heart and I now understand it’s place and power.
Why should we fast?
Matthew 9:14-15 is perhaps the clearest picture of Christ’s stance on fasting.
“Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come with the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”
According to these verses, there are two reasons we fast.
First, Christ expects it. In these verses, He makes it clear it is not a question of “if” His disciples will fast, but “when”. Sister, hear this: as disciples of Christ, we should be fasting. It is an integral part of our walk with Christ.
Secondly, we fast because we are waiting expectantly for our bridegroom. One day He will return, and we will no longer fast. Instead, we will be brought to His table and together we will feast! Until that day we will watch, wait, and fast.
John Piper once said fasting adds an exclamation point to our prayers. Daily we petition Him with our needs: “Lord, we need healing! We need guidance! We pray for your return!”. Fasting physically demonstrates our spiritual longing. It shows God we desire those things, we desire Him, more than we desire worldly comfort and sustenance.
Ultimately, fasting reminds us who is our true source of life and comfort. Food can easily become a sort of idol. We turn to food when we are hungry, celebrating, sad, and bored. We even have a term for what happens to us when we don’t get enough food: hangry. When we step away from this crutch, even for a short amount of time, we can lift our eyes up and glance at the One who we ought to turn to with all our emotions. This practice keeps us dependent on the true Bread of Life.
When should we fast?
Christian fasting is not simply done for the sake of fasting. It is done with a specific purpose in mind. Before you begin, you need to determine what you are bringing before God during your time of fasting. Are you repenting from a deep-rooted sin? Are you seeking His guidance through major transition? Are you simply trying to clear out the mental clutter and hear His voice?
Queen Esther called for a fast just before she dared approach her husband, the King, to save the Jewish people. She does so by telling her friends, “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16)
She was desperate for God to act on behalf of her people. She knew lives hung in the balance. To demonstrate the intensity of her need, she and her people fasted for three days.
Must it be food?
No, 1 Corinthians 7:5 makes this clear. You can fast from anything you find yourself clinging to. Perhaps that is technology, television, sleep…sex. As 1 Corinthians suggests, fasting from sex for a short time to petition the Lord together as a married couple is quite powerful. It is not what you fast from, but what you move towards that is important.
Here is my challenge for you today: start small. Ask the Lord what He would have you fast from and when. When I did this, I determined I would give up one lunch, once a week. I would use this time to seek the Lord in whatever way He laid on my heart that day.
I believe if we obey Christ in this way, we will see some of our deepest prayers answered. Through regular prayer and fasting, we will find ourselves dwelling in His presence even in the mundane.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!