Fasting: Cultivating a hunger for God

Fasting: Cultivating a hunger for God

“Mom, this meal is AMAZING!!! We should have this every day!” shouted my somewhat excitable 4-year-old at the dinner table. The volume immediately informed us, and possibly the rest of the neighborhood, how much he was enjoying supper. Even though his exuberance quickly faded, it served as a glimpse at the delight God intended for us to experience as we feast on him and the spiritual truths revealed through his Word.

Scripture often uses metaphors of food and drink to describe the rich fare offered in the Gospel for our souls to delight in. So, this begs the question: Are we regularly experiencing this AMAZING spiritual meal? And if not, then why not? Are these satisfying enjoyments only meant for certain, extra-spiritual Christians? Well, we know that’s not the case because Isaiah 55 beckons all to come and enjoy this feast “without money and without price.”

Why then is this not our ongoing testimony? There are many possible answers to that question, but in an unquestioningly indulgent culture, one of the primary reasons may be a lack of spiritual appetite. We are full on everything else instead. Endless consumption of things that are not even inherently wrong like good food, entertainment and social media still takes a toll. But they feel so routine and normal that we rarely pause to consider the effect on our spiritual lives. Could it be possible that these gifts have so overrun our souls that they’ve crowded out our appetite for God? Are we sitting down at the five-star banquet having already stuffed ourselves with fast food on the way?

If you are like me, the answer to that question is often yes. So, how do we begin to develop anew (or for the first time) a hunger and thirst for God? In Scripture and throughout church history, we see fasting held up as a means of grace meant to accomplish this exact aim. In faith, we refrain for a period from something(s) that is valid to enjoy with the purpose of intentionally reorienting that time and those appetites towards God and his Kingdom. Even though it may not be evident at first, weaning ourselves off of temporary indulgences will increasingly refine our tastes for eternal heavenly pleasures.

And that’s when we discover the best news … we won’t ever have to curb those appetites! In fact, we’re invited to voraciously eat all we could ever want. There is always more. As Jonathan Edwards puts it — “There is no such virtue as temperance in spiritual feasting.” Yes, this meal is AMAZING!!! Let’s make room for it.