I’m not talking about quitting…rather, fasting. This is something I’ve never been good at. I’ve only actually tried fasting from food once or twice. But it is something that Jesus assumed we would do. And I was reminded of this once again during the sermon last Sunday.
For those of you not very familiar with the idea…
Fasting is most commonly done by giving up food for a set amount of time. Usually it is associated with certain purposes. For instance, its natural to forgo food during times of mourning, illness or while you’re considering a big decision. Other reasons are usually spiritual in nature, and are related to building up self control and growing closer to God. Many people use the time that they would normally be preparing and consuming food to instead pray or read God’s Word.
Frequently, fasting and similar “deprivations of the body” are associated with very strict religious people like monks. But I don’t think this is the way God intended it to be used.
I don’t believe that God wants us to go around starving to death and beating ourselves. God created this world for us to enjoy (within reason…and still abiding by His standards). He created all the great food we enjoy and the nature we marvel at.
But there is still a time and place to use spiritual disciplines such as fasting. Because we can become so consumed by earthly desires and the busyness of life that we become distracted from our primary task of following and worshiping our Lord.
In our youth group D-Groups last night we discussed the sermon and one of the questions we asked was about fasting. We challenged them to try to give up something in order to gain self-control and being closer to God. I also challenged my group to go beyond the typical food fasting and to think of other things that consume their time or are big distractions to them. We talked about what we would give up for the next two weeks until we meet as a group again. Some decided to give up meat, others talking to certain friends who are bad influences, and others responding in certain hurtful ways to people.
I make a lot of excuses about why not to fast, at least from food. I get bad headaches when I don’t eat, and I can get lightheaded and pretty tired. Plus, I’ve been having some stomach problems and that will only get worse if I don’t eat.
So, why don’t I fast from something else then? I came up with some other options…but none that I particularly want to give up. But then again, fasting isn’t supposed to be fun or easy. If it was it wouldn’t be a spiritual discipline. I’ve thought of giving up soda (especially my daily Coke), internet (mainly facebook..and alas, the blog?), TV (although I haven’t been watching much recently), sleeping in. But I have yet to make a final decision. And instead of completely it up completely, I’ve thought of at least putting a time limit on my use of the internet. That would still require a bit of self control.
What about you all? Do you regularly or occasionally fast? From food or something else? Just curious…