fasting {spiritual discipline}

 i have always thought to write something-you must know it and have experienced it, and also mastered it.

i'm growing to understand that some lessons are best learned and shared when you're wallowing in the thick of it

or when you have the thirstiest desire to know more.

i've begun to open my life a little more to you by showing you how i exercise the disciplines of retreating, sharpening, and memorizing Scripture. this one i reluctantly write. i've open and closed to edit this post for several weeks as i feel like i've failed miserably in this discipline. yet, because this discipline flows out of a love relationship with God, i can try again. i can rebuke the lie that i must master this discipline and simply enjoy knowing my Savior more and more as i turn "away from the pleasures of the world to make {myself} subject to Christ."

what was once viewed as an ancient mystery has become an intriguing dialog between me and God.

let me show you what i'm learning about fasting...

"Fasting indicates prayer. And prayer indicates God." {Beth Moore}

prayer happens without ceasing in the life of a Christ follower who longs to know Him more.

fasting is an intentional step forward in prayer where you, for a moment in time, set a pleasure aside, to more wholeheartedly adore Christ.

it's an inward act of worship declaring that God matters most above any worldly treasure.

i approach the discipline of fasting to beg for God's divine work and power in a situation or life itself.

i practice as well to rid myself of worldliness creeping in and taking captive of my very heart that God makes beat.

“Fasting is to be a perfect quieting of all our impulses, fleshly and spiritual.” St. Thomas Aquinas

though there's no biblical laws that command regular fasting, Scriptures speak of "when you fast..." Matthew 6.16 says, "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."

your outward corporate worship varies from mine. my preference for a version of the Bible might not be yours.

similarly in fasting, your ways might be different from mine.

examples of biblical fasting:

Esther fasted on behalf of her people through an absolute fast.{Esther 4.16}

Job wrote in Job 23:10-14, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my portion of food...”

Daniel, in a state of mourning, gave up food for 3 weeks. {Daniel 10}

Jesus taught that the disciples would fast after He was gone. {Matthew 9.14-17}

Anna, the prophetess, worshipped through fasting. {Luke 2.37}

Saul, now Paul, in depravity, did not eat or drink for several days. {Acts 9.9}

the disciples fasted during the Church Age, which is presently {Acts 13.2}

what this might say to you and me:

If Esther called for a fast to tap into His heavenlies at crisis, why would I doubt that God works powerfully when I am totally devoted to Him in a fast?

Daniel switched up his fasts. Why? The need was great and immediate. He devoted his whole self to God to call on Him to be near and present and active.

what others say about this powerful act of worship:

“Fasting won’t just make you headachy and irritable and ravenous. It will make you somehow, stronger....” [Mudhouse Sabbath]

“Non-gastronomic fasts would be easier for me than a food fast to avoid the basic discipline of abstaining from food.”

“One Jewish fasting manual instructs its readers to slow down during fast days, to accept that our bodies will not move and our synapses will not click and our brains will not process quite as quickly.” [Mudhouse Sabbath]

“Fasting is not meant to drag us down, but to still us. It is not meant to distract us from the really real, but rather silence us so that we can hear things as they most truly are.”

“When I am hungry, it is possible to remember where my dependence lies.”

“Fasting reveals the things that control us.”

"In his fasting, therefore, let a man rejoice inwardly in the very fact that by this his fasting he is turning away from the pleasures of the world to make himself subject to Christ...." {Augustine of Hippo}

 what i'm learning:

prayer, at times, is done before others. fasting, though close family and friends might know you are fasting, is something cleansing and renewing between you and your Maker.

for me, every other way i learn and process causes me to jump, respond, or react. this is the one discipline that slows me down...in a good way. it’s what i see God using in my life to get my undivided attention - a slowing down.

Foster says that our stomachs are like a spoiled child. we often don’t tell it “no.” fasting is telling our stomach no. that food can wait, i'm devoting my time, attention, and energy on God.

in my life, i have many reasons to re-center on God, especially mid-week. fasting is a spiritual act of worship that says i am committed to You, O God. i am weak, You are strong. apart from You i can do nothing. i am learning through fasting that i am not in control. i am not “the Mom.” i am not “the one with all the answers.” what i need most is Him.

from what i've gathered and what i've read, it's crucial to slow down. to forfeit exercise on days of fasting. to plan your calendar around this discipline.

fasting can be days devoted or hours devoted.

relax in the pleasure of seeking the King through this discipline. and as a love for running comes for those who run and train, so comes a love and passion to set aside worldly pleasures to focus and seek God. neither training nor fasting are easy, it's the affects of it that are cleansing and powerful.

fasting is a very long prayer! it’s a without ceasing prayer.

Additional Resources:

Mudhouse Sabbath, Lauren Winner

Celebration of Discipline, Richard J. Foster

St. Augustine: Confessions, translated by Richard Pine-Coffin