Since May, I have made a regular practice of fasting. I tell you this not to impress you or to top your own spiritual experience. I tell you this so that you will take what I am about to tell you with some seriousness because it is coming from someone that has a bit of experience.
First, let me explain that I appreciate Scot McKnight’s theory on biblical fasting. McKnight explains that fasting is a spiritual response to a sacred moment. In other words, when you see fasting in the Bible it is because something sorrowful, convicting, or deeply meaningful was happening. The apostle Paul would be confused by the trendy nature of fasting today that is not tied to any kind of sacred event or holiday. That being said, here are three things I have learned while fasting.
- Fasting resets me spiritually. Usually, my day starts with some kind of preoccupation, worry, or obsessive thought that is usually fraught with anxiety or worse, anger. On the days that I fast, my life has gotten simpler. I usually end the day realizing that God is here, I can trust him, and I don’t have to manage everything on my own. I face the fact that I need God and God will provide in all aspects of my life.
- Fasting slows me down. Like the one above, I have a fresh, simple outlook on my day. I do the thing that is in front of me, usually at a slower pace and with less frantic-ness. Fasting takes the edge off of the urgent and allows the day to flow with a rhythm that reminds me that there is so much more happening around me and I have just one role to play.
- Fasting focuses my prayer life. With a fresh, simpler perspective and a more deliberate pace to my day, I now have the freedom to pray and pray with focus and intent. Through fasting, I know that everything comes from God and the best place for me to be is in reliance on him and not on myself. That establishes my place in relation to God. I need him and he needs to intervene in my life and in the things and people around me. So I pray because that is the best response I can come up with in my current situation.
Next time, I will share some practical steps to complete a fast and make it work for you.