By Kelly Carr
Do not enter.
No photography please.
Speed limit 35.
Do not feed the animals.
It starts during childhood. You have a room full of toys but you’re told not to touch your sibling’s new bike. You probably didn’t want to touch it until your parents told you not to. Then you couldn’t stop dwelling on trying to get a hold of it.
When approaching the discipline of fasting, perhaps this part of our nature is why we inwardly bristle at the thought—because as soon as we are told to sacrifice something from our routine, instantly that’s all we can think about.
Give up food? On purpose? Well now all I want to do is eat!
Dragging My Feet
In all honesty, I feel that disdain. When I’ve participated in a fast in the past, I’ve secretly hoped that time and the experience would go by fast so that I could eat again.
So no, I don’t regularly fast. I’ve heard of people who regularly fast, and I admire their growth in an area I find challenging. I’ve heard of a church who fasts as a group each year before their annual congregational meeting—they lift up their elders and ministers in prayer. That’s inspiring and must be encouraging to the leadership.
The thing is, I know that I’ve experienced blessings when I’ve fasted before. I’ve sought specific answers during a fast, and I seemed to be better focused on listening to God’s Spirit through that time. Or I’ve fasted alongside a congregation full of brothers and sisters, and I’ve felt closer in such dedicated time of prayer together for our church and community. So maybe I should remember those blessings and quit dragging my feet.
Communicating with God
Jesus fasted. That alone should be example enough for me, for all of us. He didn’t have to. He’d already sacrificed plenty to come to earth and live a perfect life and prepare to give his life. But fasting must be a valuable discipline because Jesus incorporated it into his prayer life for 40 days and 40 nights before beginning his three years of intensive ministry.
Giving up food or some other practice in order to pray may seem like an odd spiritual discipline. Yet God works in mysterious ways. He allows beautiful things to happen in our communication with him when we include fasting in our prayer life. He anticipates the growth that will occur. He is ready to draw near to us in new and different ways when we give up something when approaching him.
When you look up the word fast in a Bible search, not only do you find the act of fasting but you also see Scriptures about holding fast to God and God holding fast to us. And that’s truly the goal of fasting, praying, and all our spiritual disciplines—to hold fast to our Creator, our Redeemer, our Lord and to plead that he would hold fast to us.
Thankfully that is a request he is always ready to answer.