Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 11, 2012 0 comments

I love food. I especially enjoy all the foods that aren’t so healthy - pasta and chocolate in particular! My husband and I used to joke that for a while, almost every meal we ate had pasta, cheese, or both. Not only do I enjoy eating food, but I enjoy sharing meals with others. I often spend my lunch break from my job sharing a meal with a friend or two. Along with that, I have a tendency to get extremely light-headed if I miss a meal, and even eating a meal later than normal makes me rather irritable (just ask my husband!). So when it comes to this topic of fasting - giving up food for a period of time - I definitely get at least a little nervous!

Growing up in the particular church I was raised in, we were not taught about fasting much. It was one of those concepts that people did back in Biblical times but isn’t necessary to practice today. So it came as a bit of a shock to me a few years ago when my current church (a completely different denomination) said we were going to do a church-wide fast for 21 days! It was not a requirement but definitely encouraged. Fortunately, we did not need to do a full fast and abstain from all food (which, incidentally, is not recommended for long periods without working up to it in some way and making sure you’re healthy enough).

There are many options for fasting that still allow you to eat. Skipping one meal a day works for some, and giving up certain food items works for others. There are more strict fasts, such as the “Daniel fast” of basically eating only vegetables. When I have fasted to participate in what the church was doing, my husband and I gave up our favorite “comfort” foods - macaroni and cheese, hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, cheeseburgers, chocolate, and pop. At first I really craved those foods even more than usual, but eventually I got used to not eating them. It was definitely tough at some points though, especially when we had chocolatey treats in the office at work!

So, what’s the point of giving up foods you enjoy? Why would anyone voluntarily do something like this? Well first of all, it is Biblical. Nehemiah fasted and prayed for a number of days after hearing that Jerusalem’s wall was in disrepair (Nehemiah 1). Jesus fasted for 40 days while He was being tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13). Paul fasted after his conversion experience (Acts 9:1-19). Jesus even gives us instructions on what to do when we fast Matthew 6:16-18). There are many other instances of the early church members fasting as they carried out and prayed for their ministry.

Fasting is a way that we can become closer to God by not giving in to the pleasures of this earth. By abstaining from eating a meal (or many meals) our spiritual senses are heightened to be more closely attuned to what God is doing in and around us. This is why the people recorded in the Bible fasted, and this is why we are free to do the same. In our culture that is so focused on food and pleasures, fasting is very difficult but the reward of a closer relationship with God is great.