Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why I Fast - Part 3 of 3

Today's Lenten reflection was on fasting so a good time to complete this little series.

I fast for lots of reasons, the following already mentioned...

* Fasting is an assumed biblical practice of Jesus' disciples
* Fasting is the most appropriate response to certain sacred moments we experience in life
* Fasting reminds me of how much I have
* Fasting focuses my heart on the hungry and the poor in this world
* Fasting urges me to resist consumerism, materialism, and greed
* Fasting saves me money which I can give to organisations working with people trapped in poverty
* Fasting reminds me of that which God has already spoken to me about
* Fasting is a tangible, physical, touch, taste, feel way of out working my faith (well not taste).
* Fasting is an expression of repentance, the turning from one way to another.
* Fasting affirms the reality that one cannot live by bread alone.

Here is a little more...

In life we must be prepared to give up some things if we intend to get things that are even more important. We understand this in regards to saving. The same is true in our spiritual development. Through fasting we chose to give up and focus on the pursuit of that which is more important than food. When we fast we pray and reflect and pursue God. Bodily comfort must not be allowed to soften the search for spiritual fortitude - Joan Chittister. Through fasting we embrace the reality that life is not about permanent and continual self-satisfaction. We learn to control our bodies and thus condition ourselves for control in more challenging situations. We master self-conquest and we become aware of what is truly necessary in life.

In sum...

I fast for a number of reasons. I don't always find it easy. I get hungry, but that's not really the hard part. Going without food is relatively easy. What's hard is choosing to go without food. Why am I doing this? Does it even matter, make a difference, do anything in my life? When those questions come I reflect on the many reasons that I fast. At different times different reasons stand out and I am strengthened in my resolve to follow Christ and live counter to the way of the world. It's only one way, but nevertheless it is a way in which my inner faith begins to truly be outworked in life. It aims my life in a different direction, in a Kingdom direction.

At times I'll fast longer than a single day but at present the rhythm of a regular weekly fast is significant in my life. I eat on a Wednesday and then not again till Friday. Another way of doing this could be to miss dinner on a Wednesday night through until having dinner on a Thursday night. That may be slightly less daunting.

Either way I'd encourage you to think about fasting. NOT in order to get something though, but rather as perhaps and appropriate response to something that God is doing in your life.

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