Every week we look at a practical way to follow Jesus. Today we’re considering fasting.
And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” (Luke 5:33-35)
When biblical people fasted, they gave up food for a period of time in order to concentrate on prayer. Fasting is an exercise in self-discipline, a way to teach yourself to say no to temptation. Fasting enables you to draw near to God as you rely on him to energize you. Jesus fasted in the wilderness before he was tempted by Satan.
Jesus’ disciples didn’t need to fast while he was here on earth–they were drawing near to him every day!
I remember trying to fast several times when my kids were little. I’d been reading a lot of books about spiritual disciplines, and I thought I would try to fast. Each time I asked God to enable me to rely on him instead of on food. By midmorning, I would be feeling very grumpy with my kids. I realized that God had not called me to fast at those times. I was just trying out disciplines that an author suggested—rather than listening to God and what he wanted me to do.
Of course you can fast from things that are not food, or give up certain food groups for a time.
Practical Ideas for Fasting
- Give up one meal. Choose your prayer focus (maybe five things you can count on your fingers) and every time you are hungry, ask God for strength while you bring your prayer requests to him.
- Think of a specific food or beverage that you might overindulge in. Maybe this is coffee or chocolate. Consider limiting your consumption of this to just once a week. When you do enjoy it, take your time. Serve it in a pretty mug or on a china plate. Hold it in your hands and thank God for this blessing.
- Share your commitment to fast with just a friend or two. You might need some accountability, but you don’t need comments from everyone on social media. This is a personal commitment you make to God.
Peace be with you
Think about everything we read today. How do these Scriptures give you peace? How does God’s omnipotence give you peace? How about fasting? Could an increased focus on prayer contribute to a peaceful attitude?