Have You Tried Fasting?

Show me a human, and I’ll show you someone who loves to eat.  Humans seem to be really good at eating.  There are even contests to see who the best eater is.  What we eat, well, that’s another story.  This past Sunday we talked a little about fasting.  In a culture that loves to eat, fasting seems to go against the instinct to eat.  But fasting is really more about feasting.  Fasting is a way to say no to a physical hunger, so I can feed my spiritual hunger.  Fasting is a way to create space in our busy, consumer filled lives in order to feast on the love of God for us.  Fasting is a way to realign our drifting hearts to God’s heart.  Fasting is not a tool used to manipulate God, as if we are saying, “I’m starving myself until you give me what I want!”  Rather, fasting is a way to say, “Lord, what is it You want for my life?  What does your heart love that my heart needs to begin to love?”  God loves people, He loves your neighbors, He loves those who don’t know Him, He loves the poor and under-resourced.  Fasting can align our heart to his, making His loves, our loves.

So how can we do it?  We must choose a physical hunger that we abstain from, and in it’s place feast on God’s Word and prayer.  Here are 3 practical ways to use the gift of fasting to feast on God’s love, and align ourselves with God’s mission.

  1. Food
    Give up a meal to spend time reading and praying.  You can choose a set day to do this over the course of say a month.  For example, don’t eat lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a month.  During those times, read through some of the Psalms in the Bible and reflect on who God is and what He loves, and cast your cares on Him.  Another way to do a food fast is a 24 hour fast.  Choose a day and during all 3 meal times, spend time in Bible and prayer.  Perhaps choose a few days a month to do this.  For help on reading the Bible, check out our Bible reading plan here.
  2. Spending
    Give up all unnecessary spending for a month.  Pay your bills, including your regular giving, and then cut out any spending on things that are not essential to your survival (clothes, gadgets, movies, drinks, snacks, etc).  Anytime you are tempted to spend, take that moment to pray, remind yourself that you do not “need” this thing, but that you need God.  Then take that money you were going to spend and put it in an envelope, (or write it down in a journal if you were gonna swipe your card) to be saved for the end of the month.  At month’s end, ask God who He would desire you to give that money to (Perhaps your church, a friend in need, a local organization, or someone’s medical bills).  Jesus said where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  How easy it is to look to physical purchases to provide comfort or control in our chaotic lives.
  3. Technology/Social Media
    Give up technology (like tv or internet surfing) or social media for a week or a month.  We are so quick to look to these things to fill the silence and voids in our life, and we drown out the voice of God.  Every time you are desiring to scroll through your feed, or veg out in front of the tv, pick up the Bible and spend time filling your head and heart with God’s truth.  Or put on some worship music and go for a walk and pray for your neighborhood.  Social Media is a great invention, but it can become an addiction where we grow in our contempt for others in this fallen world, or we grow insecure and fearful as we find ourselves comparing our lives to others, or we desperately seek affirmation and “likes” from fellow sinners rather than basking in the approval of the God of the universe who sent Jesus to remove all of our sin and shame and welcome us into his eternal affirmation where we aren’t just liked, we are deeply loved.

Remember, with anything new, it will not feel natural at first.  You are training yourself to say no to a desire in order to feed your heart’s deepest desire, God. Give yourself grace, stick with it, and maybe invite someone close to you to keep you accountable or do it with you.  Give it a try and see what Jesus will do in your heart and life as you follow Him.

For more insight on fasting, check out this post by Sam Storms.