Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Second Nature: FASTING (the one that got away)

A couple of weeks ago a colleague asked me if I regularly fast as a spiritual discipline. The question caught me off guard. I fumbled over my words... I should have been able to say yes... but I didn't have an excuse. I didn't fast. We all know the popular spiritual disciplines (whether we practice them or not is another question) such as praying, giving, serving, and reading scripture. Yet for some reason, fasting isn't a regular spiritual discipline for many evangelical Christians. There were many biblical characters in the bible that fasted namely, Jesus! In Matthew Jesus gave some guidelines on treasures, prayer, worry, and fasting. He qualified each teaching by saying "whenever" you fast, which means that Jesus expects us to practice fasting.

Spiritual disciplines are a means of grace that we practice so that we might draw closer to God. They are not for legalistic purposes (obeying the rules). They are not there to make us look good or feel good. Simply put they are tools to draw us closer to God.

I think it is important to define fasting. Fasting traditionally has been interpreted as abstaining from food for spiritual purposes. Historically people would fast for a few days, multiple days, one day, or meal. We can also fast from something that controls us or takes up space in our life. For example, we could spend one day a week taking a break from television or social media.

Obviously, we don't fast because hunger is not the greatest feeling. But that is the point! Our hunger pains are a reminder for us to pray, read scripture, meditate, focus on God. Maybe when we fast we can spend time praying about a specific situation, person, conflict, or decision. 

I hope we might make a weekly commitment to fast. The question my colleague asked me encouraged me to create a weekly discipline of fasting. I don't do a complete fast. I usually drink a smoothie and water. I started this discipline in Lent with the purpose of ending it in Lent. But now it is becoming second nature. Routine. Rhythm. So go with me... so that we might lean into God together and be all that God has called us to be.