Lent and Resurrection Sunday are meant to be spiritual blessings. Lent puts us in the right frame of mind. Holy Week builds the
intensity with the symbolism of Palm Sunday, the teaching in the Seder, remembering Christ’s suffering and death at the Good Friday community service, Resurrection Sunday renewing hope for the future, and gathering with family after it all to further appreciate what God has done in that area. But it may be the Friday Fasts of Lent that can benefit most. They can be a struggle, yet gratifying-great for our relationship with God.
Fasting is a regular discipline for calling on God’s grace to find and follow His will. That is a good definition to write inside the cover of your Bible. The other major spiritual disciplines for serious believers are Bible reading, prayer, and Christian fellowship-which includes worship.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:16, “when you fast”, not “if” you fast. For me, it is one of the measuring marks of my devotion to God. It begs the question, how badly do I want to know what God is trying to say to me. And, since fasting can help us hear His voice more clearly, and prayer is fasting’s partner, God has made a way for us to get from Him the wisdom we need for so many problems coming our way in life. We can also fast to help others hear God’s will.
Usually, people think about denying themselves food or drink when they fast, but you can also stop routines like television, basketball, texting, work, newspapers, Facebook, etc. That frees up more time for God and prayer.
When you deny yourself physical stuff you can focus more on spiritual stuff. Hopefully, that will make you more spiritually alert. Food can make it more difficult to hear God because it makes you mentally duller as the body works to digest the food. That is why some salesmen are taught to take their clients out to eat, and then give them the sales pitch. There are also many other physical health benefits to fasting.
The Bible doesn’t tell us how often or how long to fast. In those areas we must be guided by the Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts.
God may move you to fast, or you may desire to do it for your own reasons. Moses was
fasting when God gave him the Ten Commandments. Elijah was fasting when God gave him specific instructions that led to the defeat of certain enemies of Israel. Jesus did in the wilderness in preparation for His mission on earth. The early church fasted before men were sent on special assignments.
I am inviting you to join Becky and I in a fairly simple 24-hour fast on the first Friday of each month. Some of you have joined the Lenten Friday Fasts. We will call this one the First Friday Fast. Abstain from food and drink only water after supper on Thursday evening until supper on Friday evening. Adjust the supper times to allow for 24 actual hours.
For health reasons some people need to check with their doctor before starting a food fast. If that is a danger, give up something else.
The Holy Spirit is reminding the Church of the many benefits in fasting. We can encourage one another in this important spiritual discipline. You can do it.
“But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father [and us], who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you” (Matthew 6:17-18).