Friday, February 19, 2010

Fasting ~ Lent 2010

The Message is as true among you today as when you first heard it. It doesn't diminish or weaken over time. It's the same all over the world. The Message bears fruit and gets larger and stronger, just as it has in you. From the very first day you heard and recognized the truth of what God is doing, you've been hungry for more.
Colossians 1:6 The Message

Fasting takes many forms and is a common practice during Lent. Some will sacrifice chocolate or sweets, others will give up sodas or TV. During Lent, many Catholics fast every Friday, giving up meat. The purpose of fasting goes beyond ritual; it is to draw us closer to God.

Richard Foster, in his Celebration of Discipline, devotes a chapter to fasting and gives Christians insight into this discipline of faith: "Throughout Scripture fasting refers to abstaining from food for spiritual purposes. . . Biblical fasting always centers on spiritual purposes." Foster points out that Jesus never commands believers to fast but acknowledges that we will. In Matthew 6:16, Jesus says, "When you fast . . ." Foster continues, "So, although Jesus does not say, 'If you fast,' neither does he say 'You must fast.' His word is, very simply, 'When you fast.'"

So why fast? Foster explains, "Fasting must forever center on God. . . More than any other Discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us. David writes, 'I humbled my soul with fasting' (Ps. 69:10). . . Therefore, in experiences of fasting we are not so much abstaining from food as we are feasting on the Word of God." Celebration of Discipline - Chapter 4, pgs.47-61

When seeking ways to offer a sacrifice of praise to God, fasting is one way. However, fasting does not have to mean "giving up" something; it can be "giving more." Consider "giving more" as your sacrifice of praise, such as: spending more time in God's Word, fasting FROM the world by spending time serving people in need, make time to attend special worship programs or visit homebound and elderly folks. The possibilities of "giving more" for God are endless.

Listen for His Voice to direct your energies. Richard Foster notes, "Outwardly, you will be performing regular duties of your day, but inwardly you will be in prayer and adoration, song and worship. In a new way, cause every task of the day to be a sacred ministry to the Lord. Cultivate a gentle receptiveness to divine breathings."

Our sacrifice of praise ~
Do you hunger for more? How will your fasting be more like feasting on the Word of God? ~dho