Fasting: A Feast of the Heart
Yes, life is a paradox: “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” (Mother Teresa)
“Fasting hurts” in the most important way: “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
From inside the fishbowl of our “if-it-tastes-, feels-, looks-, smells- good-, just-eat-or-do-it” culture, the idea of voluntarily and intentionally fasting or abstaining from anything pleasurable sounds like a puritanical throwback idea tied to being a monk, ascetic or, worse yet, a fundamentalist of some kind.
Well, in regards to the best and proper use of the word, fasting is a fundamentally fundamental aspect of the faith!
And in This Regard, I Am A Fundamentalist… A Devoted and Happy Throwback!
For me, my discipline and habit around this issue waxes and wanes—depending on lots of external factors that make the internal forces more complex and hard to control. And that’s not good…
However, when I do stick to a fasting plan I’m all-ways immeasureably rewarded! Not by works that God is mollified or assuaged by, but by the increase of GRACE and God, self-, and other-awareness.
Dan Allender, PhD, wrote, “Fasting from any nourishment, activity, involvement or pursuit—for any season—sets the stage for God to appear. Fasting is not a tool to pry wisdom out of God’s hands or to force needed insight about a decision. Fasting is not a tool for gaining discipline or developing piety (whatever that might be). Instead, fasting is the bulimic act of ridding ourselves of our fullness to attune our senses to the mysteries that swirl in and around us.”
Check It Out: “…fasting is the bulimic act of ridding ourselves of our fullness to attune our senses to the mysteries that swirl in and around us.”
I love that idea… Albeit, I personally would be quick to add an important caveat: “the mysteries” I believe to be the most important is the TRUTH and LOVE that we have forgotten, rushed by amidst the busyness unnoticed, or never knew about God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
“The mystery” is nothing more obvious than to say, fasting helps bring to fruition the first two Commandments God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit hold so dear, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)
The level of importance and practice we attach to the act of fasting (as Allender has defined it) is directly commensurate or proportional to the level of the physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional maelstrom we might be facing every day: I’m sure most would agree: The level is radically high in our day? And it may also be likely that the numbers who commit to fasting is extremely low.
Net, Net? For the vast majority of us, the regular discipline and manifold rewards of fasting would be extremely helpful in a whole host of ways!
For more information and inspiration, please check out all some resources below:
Your Personal Guide to Fasting and Prayer, Campus Crusade for Christ
The Heart of Christian Fasting, Parts 1,2,3, by John MacArthur
Revival and Fasting, by John Piper
May God richly bless you and yours in the abundance of spiritual nourishment… as your seek to include FASTING as an integral and regular component of increasing your HUNGER for God.
Do this out of gratitude for how God constrained Himself for us. Which is infinitely more than we will ever grasp… even after ten thousand years in heaven.