by Maison Jackson
I tried fasting for the first time... It stinks.
Fasting hasn't ever been something that's really been on my radar. I always have had the excuse of getting physically ill when I don't eat and my sugar crashes, but recently my wife and I listened to the challenge our pastor put to us and decided to fast a day.
By the middle of it I wanted to know, "Why are we doing this again?" I wondered what the point was. I wasn't spending all day not eating and only praying, I have two kids dontcha know? It just wasn't possible. So, why? What's the point?
I did some digging and noticed that fasting was a discipline, listed together with prayer and giving (Matt 6). That seems to infer that Jesus sees fasting as distinct from but equal to prayer and giving. And I don't know if you've noticed but he's REAL big on prayer and giving.
Since fasting is a discipline, it also doesn't come naturally for most people. It's something you have to work at. And until you've practiced it and understand the ins-and-outs and the whys of what's going on, it will continue to stink.
Compare it to getting in shape. When you haven't exercised and decide to start, your body is screaming at you to stop within a day or two, if not within the hour, of when you start.
In the same way, pushing your body in a spiritual way can get some physiological pushback as well. My head hurt, I was tired, I was grouchy, etc. But I tell you what: this morning I've written two journal entries and a worship song without even really trying to do so.
It just seemed to put me in a spiritual mindset. It made me receptive to spiritual things.
Fasting in the Bible is done to show a commitment--to make it clear you intend to be heard by God, to humble yourself, to prepare yourself for important events, to change God's mind, and to work towards social justice.
There's a whole lot more that can be said about that list but for right now I've come to one real important conclusion:
Fasting isn't fun, but maybe this fasting stuff isn't so bad after all...