Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On Fasting

As with many things, if its good enough for Jesus its good enough for me. Fasting is a denial of self to focus on God. Giving up food, something we need, helps us to concentrate on something we need even more; the grace of God. Jesus was quoting the Old Testament when he said “Man does not live on bread alone but by every word of God.” Fasting reminds us of what we need the most.

There are several things about fasting that can be tricky. Jesus warns us elsewhere to not appear pitiful while fasting to get attention. We also shouldn’t use that time we would normally eat to be super-productive either. Many religions fast. Lots of people don’t eat simply to shed calories. What differentiates fasting from merely skipping meals is what you do instead- connecting with the Living God. Check out this quote from Thomas Merton…
"The goal of fasting is inner unity. This means hearing, but not with the ear; hearing, but not with the understanding; it is hearing with the spirit, with your whole being. The hearing that is only in the ears is one thing. The hearing of the understanding is another, but the hearing of the spirit is not limited to any one faculty, to the ear, or to the mind. Hence, it demands the emptiness of the faculties, and when the faculties are empty, then your whole being listens. There is then a direct grasp of what is right before you that can never be heard with the ear or understood with the mind. Fasting of the heart empties the faculties, frees you from limitations and from preoccupations."

Now, as someone who loves more than his share of food fasting can be tough. Part of it for me is surrendering the privileges I enjoy of being able to eat whatever I want, whenever I want it, and how much I want of it. A privilege that works to my disadvantage. I’m attached to food, not only for nutrition but for enjoyment, and often for social purposes as well. Fasting detaches me from my need and allows me to focus on God. This purposeful disruption is an ancient discipline and something that countless saints have utilized in their walk with God.

So, what do you think? Do you fast?


Professor RJ Gumby said...

Fasting has always been a problem for me. I have done it, and definitely felt closer to God, but the problem is that I do it in the middle of a work day in a very hectic and high-pressure job. At the end of the day, it felt like I had not really been any closer that what I was in my prayer time in the morning - and I had only extended that time by an half an hour or so. It is a challenge, but I think here I am a spiritual girly-man (to quote Hans and Franz),

Stephanie said...

That's profound. I started reading your blog a while back, and restumbled upon it. Sarah looks so pretty, even with a chain saw! XD I'm glad you write, it's a blessing-today being Easter, I realized that I was a Christian who had forgotten who was first-and perhaps fasting will right the wrong balance in my life. XD You continue to inspire me. Thanks.