"When you fast . . .”—Matthew 6:16 (NIV)
Have you ever been hangry? For those unfamiliar with this term, hangry, which is now officially in the dictionary, is defined as a person becoming “bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger.” I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about. When we’re babies, we cry when we’re hungry, when we’re kids we throw tantrums and become difficult, even as adults, hunger often causes us to lose our ever-loving minds. We become cranky, irrational, and easily annoyed. There’s even a great series of Snickers commercials about how “You’re not you when you’re hungry.”
Sadly, I think we can all admit that most of the time we spend a lot more time and energy concerning ourselves with satiating our physical hunger while often starving our spiritual hunger. We plan our lives and days around the meals we’re going to eat and the restaurants we’re going to hit up; we even talk about different food while eating meals (or is it just me that does that?). And yet, the idea of consuming the bread of life through the Word and drinking in the presence of God in prayer is often either an afterthought, an inconvenience, or simply an item on a checklist we struggle to cross off. And then we wonder why so many people in the “developed” world, including believers, walk around with full bellies but starving souls.
This is why Jesus gave us the practice of fasting not as an “if” but as a “when.” It’s not a tool we have in our belt for a “just in case” or a worst-case scenario, but a discipline we’re expected to feast on regularly. Now, I know my use of feasting in connection to fasting may seem oxymoronic, but that really just depends on the way you understand the reason and results of fasting. You see, fasting is the practice of focusing on feeding our spirits and souls with the only substance that truly satisfies . . . more of God. I try to think of fasting like going to my favorite Brazilian steakhouse and going all in on some amazing cuts of steak, experiencing every bite, really savoring the flavor, and walking away with this indescribable satisfaction. But in this case, it’s not just a satisfaction that lasts until my next meal, for in fasting we can experience breakthrough that changes our lives in profound ways.
In fasting, we forsake physical food for the purpose of intently and focusing our attention, our feelings, our desires, our hopes, and our needs towards God in prayer. There is this undeniable and truly powerful link between fasting and prayer; they walk hand-in-hand together. John Piper once called fasting “the hungry handmaiden of prayer” that reveals and remedies. “She reveals food’s mastery over us—or television or computers or whatever we submit to again and again to conceal the weakness of our hunger for God. And she remedies by intensifying the earnestness of our prayer and saying with our whole body what prayer says with the heart: I long to be satisfied in God alone.”
Friends, make fasting a regular part of your prayer routine. Not simply because it’s a command from Jesus (though that is ALWAYS enough of a reason to do anything) but also because of the reason it’s a command . . . because in fasting, we position our spirits to enjoy the bread of life, walk in the fruit of the Spirit, and experience the Father’s love and affections in greater measure. Start small . . . start with one meal! Skip breakfast or lunch and spend that time in prayer and the Word, in silence before the Father. Replace your nightly viewing of whatever show you’re binging on Netflix and instead seek to satisfy your spirit in the One who is supremely and wholly satisfactory. Plan your fast like you plan your meals. I promise that the filling you’ll get from these moments will be way better than the best meal you’ve ever had.
Popular posts from this blog
Victory Over Sin When Adam and Eve first disobeyed God and ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden, sin became a part of the nature of mankind. Ever since, humans have been born naturally separated from God because of that sin. Because He is perfect, God simply cannot be in close proximity to sin. In the Old Testament, the Israelites were required to frequently sacrifice an unblemished lamb to atone for sin. The offering had to be perfect to cover the debt of sin - it was the only way a person could stay in right standing with God. Jesus is often referred to as the “Lamb of God”, because His sacrifice on the cross covered the sin of humanity. One of the many miracles of the cross is that it reversed the curse of Adam and Eve’s sin: Just as one act of sin separated all of humanity from God, the sacrifice made by one perfect person covered the sin of all people and made a way for reconciliation. Because Jesus offered Himself for us, we hav
“So Far So God” After the Israelites pulled off an upset victory over the Philistines, the prophet Samuel built an altar and named it Ebenezer, signifying that the Lord had helped them up to that point. The altar was a way of saying to the people, “The God who did it before can do it again.” We all need Ebenezers. Reminders that the God who got us here will get us there . That the God who did this will do that . An Ebenezer is a way of recognizing and celebrating the success God has given us along the way in pursuing our dream. After our church built our coffeehouse on Capitol Hill, we decided to name it Ebenezers. We were afraid that some people would associate it with Ebenezer Scrooge, but it was a risk worth taking. There were so many miracles in the process of purchasing, rezoning, and building our coffeehouse that we wanted to name it what it was. On our coffee sleeves at Ebenezers, there is a Scripture reference that looks like a SKU code—ISAM712. There are also ini