As we enter in to this Lenten season, many go through the ritual of fasting. In our social media world, the posts begin with people sharing all the things that they are “giving up” for 40 days- chocolate, sugar, alcohol, snacks, TV or a particular show and the lists go on. People choose things they supposedly love and let those things go for this short period of time, that seems a like a long time for the one doing it. I often wonder ‘Why?’, when I hear “I gave that up for lent”. What is giving that up going to do for you or what are you replacing it with or what are you expecting in return? Is there are reason or purpose? It saddens me that for many, that this ‘act’ is just part of societal ritual that happens once a year and is the ‘thing’ to do.
I am sure that because you love Jesus, that this is not the case for you.
For Jesus followers, I would like to suggest that we are not “giving up” we are “gaining up”. The discipline during these 40 days of intentional prayer and fasting is an accepted invitation to draw closer to the Jesus we love.
What is a fast? Why do we fast?
Focused Attention Securing Transformation
It is impossible to center our hearts and minds on Jesus and not be changed. Only Jesus has the power to change us. Fasting willingly refraining from something in order for God to meet us in that time and space. When we fast, we are going to the Lord to replace our desires with His, our perspective for His, our weakness for His strength, our emptiness for His filling. A fast is the act of submission to God making room for greater dependence on God. In Ezra 8: 21-23, a fast was proclaimed for the people of God to humble themselves and ask for a safe journey. They fasted, petitioned God and He answered. We all need God’s help for a safe journey. This world is filled with so much turmoil and hurt. There is so much conflict and evil. Only God can guide us safely through it all. We want to journey safely in our relationships, in our thinking, in our emotions, in our bodies and travels. We want safety on our spiritual journey against the enemy. Jesus is the light on our path. He is the protection. If we gotten off course or lost our way, when we look to Him, we are redirected. He is everything we need. As Matthew 4:4 reminds us- “It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from of the mouth of God.” When we choose to subject our physical reality to a “loss” it is because we are choosing to actually “gain” what will actually give us life. We are replacing our physical meal with a spiritual one that has no end to the nourishment is brings us. This helps us to be changed into more of who God created us to be. We expect to have a meeting with Jesus that changes our lives.
Faithfully Apply Spiritual Truth
Fasting helps us to hold fast to the Word of God and to stand fast in the Word of God.
As we pray and read the Word, we are living out 1 Thessalonians 5:21, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” and 1 Corinthians 16:13, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” In fasting, we are feeding our faith. God truly takes this time to show us how we can and have lived on His Word. He proves He is good and gives us more of himself to hold on to. We empty, and He fills us. Fasting is creating space for what matter most. Jesus. We must decrease so that God increases. (John 3:30) This is faithfully applying spiritual truth. This focussed attention secures transformation that will bring God glory. This “giving up” is worth the “gaining up” that happens. What a gain it is!