today i rekindled my interest in fasting. there was a recent article in Relevant magazine about a couple of guys who tried to do a juice fast for 40 days. i’m not quite ready for 40 days, so let’s start slow.
first century Christians fasted before making big decisions. here are a couple of examples…
In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
Isaiah 58 is another good passage that references fasting. it reinforces the idea that fasting, like anything else, can be an empty, meaningless ritual. as i think about fasting i need to take God’s words through Isaiah to heart – it has to have deep meaning in my heart.
so what is a fast? most people think that not eating for a day is what it’s all about. while food is a great place to start, i think you can fast from almost anything. the stuff of this world prevents us from truly experiencing God, and i think we’d all be amazed if we could tune out just a little of the static. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 speaks of fasting from sex in order to devote yourself to prayer. we can fast from nearly anything.
the last time i fasted on a regular basis was in college. the ministry i was involved in encouraged leadership groups (of which i was a part) to fast. i was an intern at that ministry for a year after i graduated, and we were encouraged strongly to fast as well. during those stressful, busy times fast was a big blessing. God seemed to speak more clearly when we devoted a day or so to him. imagine that.
i have a problem with food. i eat too much of it. all the time. fasting from food is difficult for me but it’s time to do it. i need to give some things over to God and this is how i plan to start.