It feels like I almost always have plans to meet with someone during mealtimes. I often get together with students over my lunch hour at work, and many evenings my dinners are scheduled to be with my roommates or other close friends. For that reason, I got very excited the other day when I looked at my calendar and saw NO breakfast, lunch, or dinner plans. My giddy response was, “I can fast today!!!”
That might sound strange to many of you reading. Why get so excited about the idea of skipping meals for the day?
Good question! It’s because there is something beautifully spiritually nourishing about biblical fasting that always leaves me feeling closer to my Father. Because using that time to plead and pray to my good God, instead of eating reminds me of my priorities and changes something within me.
Fasting serves as a reminder that I need God’s wisdom and guidance in my life even MORE than I need food.
It reminds me that just as food nourishes my hungry body, so does God’s Word fulfill, nourish, and sustains my hungry soul.
It is a reminder that my body responds to lack of food with a sluggish tiredness, and distracted mind—and so my hungry spirit is distracted and wearied without the nourishment of the Word of God.
It reminds me that without prayer and reading of the Word—I do not function as well as I should. His Word gives me energy to serve, and keeps me more cautious of the many insignificant distractions of this world.
When my stomach growls and I choose to ignore it, I am prompted to think of all the times my spirit growls with hunger pains, and I choose to ignore it.
When I think of taking my first bite of food after the fast, and imagine the foolishness of just chewing it up and spitting it out, I think of the importance of meditating on the word of God, digesting it, and letting it change me—instead of quickly skimming the pages and spitting out its truths.
Fast prayerfully-the point it to commune with God, not just skip meals!
Fast joyfully-this isn’t a punishment or drudgery, but a delightful means of grace!
Fast introspectively- think about what God is doing in your life-seek him fervently!
Last time I fasted, it was just through breakfast and lunch-and it was such a blessing. It doesn’t need to be long or regimented. But I do encourage you to abstain from a few meals, and with all your heart, pursue Christ and pray—you won’t regret it!
For a thorough biblical evaluation of fasting, check out Donald Whitney’s chapter on fasting in his wonderfully helpful book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.