The Disciplines: Fasting
What are “spiritual disciplines?” Author and pastor John Piper describes them this way:
“The spiritual disciplines are those practices found in Scripture that promote spiritual growth among believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are habits of devotion, habits of experiential Christianity that have been practiced by God’s people since biblical times.”
If something’s been practiced by believers since biblical times, it’s probably pretty important, right?
The answer should be, of course, a resounding “Yes!” Yet many of us struggle to make these disciplines habits.
Today, we want to focus on just one of the many spiritual disciplines to help you grow in your walk with Jesus and equip you to begin to make these disciplines part of your daily life.
Let’s take a close look at the discipline of fasting.
Most people are familiar with fasting as either a medical or spiritual practice. But what exactly does Jesus say about fasting?
Habits, like fasting, that are good in and of themselves, can be abused and turned into bad things. They can be manipulated into a form of self-worship when some do those things for man’s praise instead of God’s approval. Jesus speaks about this, specifically regarding fasting, in Matthew 6:16–18,
“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Let’s take a moment to learn more about the importance of fasting and how we can begin to put this practice into our daily rhythms.
The reward for giving and praying and fasting is found in the giving and praying and fasting. Fasting and praying, and giving allow us to experience more of Him. And He is everything. Our reward is the intimacy forged in prayerful conversation with the One who stitched us, knows us, and sits enthroned within and over us.
Take a moment to reflect on the following questions and assess where you are in your practice of fasting:
1️⃣ Do you ever fast now? Why or why not?
2️⃣ Like any spiritual discipline, fasting doesn’t start off with devotion but with consistent and practiced discipline. What occasions ought to prompt fasting on your part and why?
3️⃣ What does exercising self-restraint in fasting do for our relationship with God?
In The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: “If there is no element of self-denial in our lives, if we give free rein to the desires of the flesh (taking care, of course, to keep within the limits of what seems permissible to the world), we shall find it hard to train for the service of Christ. When the flesh is satisfied, it is hard to pray with cheerfulness or to devote oneself to a life of service which calls for much self-renunciation.”
This week, we encourage you to find those things that keep you from experiencing God’s presence and intimacy and fast from them. Maybe it’s taking a day away from social media or tv, or perhaps it’s fasting from a meal as a reminder that only God can satisfy your needs. Whatever you choose, we pray that you will recognize these holy moments that prompt you to seek Him.