As a church we have been fasting the first week of each month for the past 3 months. Why are we fasting? Because we want to see more of God at work in our lives and in our church and in our community and in our world.
But why fast? Why do we give up something, whether it’s a meal, or a series of meals, or some form of media, or whatever it is you are fasting from? Isn’t that empty religion, or self-exalting asceticism? Maybe. It certainly can be, and we must guard against that.
Biblical fasting is purposeful. We don’t go through our days avoiding food so that at the end of the day we can gorge ourselves and satisfy our appetites that we’ve been putting off all day. Rather, we satisfy our appetites throughout the day by feasting upon the Lord. We trade half an hour that we would normally be eating a meal for half an hour of devouring God’s Word. Instead of scrolling through our Facebook feed for 15 minutes on a break we spend 15 minutes asking for God to work in the life of someone dear to us. Or maybe we spend an hour on our knees in the morning, skipping our morning workout, to plead with the Lord to deliver us from the bondage of a particularly debilitating area of sin in our life.
Ultimately, we are asking God to help us have a worldview dominated by his glory. And what keeps us from that is not always a life of sin (sometimes it is), but often it’s an overrealized fascination with his gifts. John Piper wrote one of the most personally challenging books I’ve read, called “A Hunger for God.” Early in the book Piper makes this observation: “The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night. For all the ill that Satan can do, when God describes what keeps us from the banquet table of his love, it is a piece of land, a yoke of oxen, and a wife (Luke 14:18-20). The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable.”
More than any other spiritual discipline, fasting reveals what in our life most controls us.
Let’s not waste this fast by simply trying to survive without food. Let’s fast and pray fervently for the Lord to so work in our hearts that we crave communion with the living God ever increasingly more than we desire to satisfy our stomachs. Photo by BrownGuacamole