09 February 2018

Does Fasting Still Matter in 2018?

I have to be honest.

For most of my life, I have had a crappy relationship with fasting. As a spiritual practice in the Christian life, my track record usually involved lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth. And lots of whining.

Right after Christmas, I went to the One Thing conference at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. 

While there, we attended a Catholic Ecumenical Tract (CET) led by some of the most Spirit-filled people I have met.

One night we heard Lou Engle preach. 
He is a revivalist who is deeply passionate about prayer and fasting. He spoke with such conviction on the power of regular and extended fasting in the Christian life in a way I have never heard before. He prayed over all present for a spirit of fasting to take hold in our hearts and lives.

As the conference continued, I kept going back to the notes I took and words I heard. I sensed inside of me a call to deeper understanding of fasting.


I was so convicted I came home on January and the next day I started 2018 with a five day water fast.

I ended up going four and a half days, but it deeply impacted me. 

It showed me that I can break my attachments to things of this world. Living in the Western Church where we are swallowed up by consumerism and excess, fasting is a powerful way to discipline my will, body, and spirit.


So really, why do we fast?


We fast to acquire mastery over our desires and experience deeper freedom in Jesus.

As a spiritual discipline, the goal of fasting is to reorient our attention, time, and resources to the things that matter in the Kingdom of God.

In fasting, our disordered desires and attachments die: lust, greed, gluttony, laziness, spiritual lethargy, gossip, hate, self-righteousness, anger, etc. When these things die in us, we become strong in the Spirit. Those fruits of the Holy Spirit will replace and fill in our unhealthy attachments.

When you fast you know you want God more than anything: food, coffee, Netflix. 

Fasting enables our physical body to join our heart in prayer.

We find God in the deserts of fasting not in the desserts of feasting. 

Since that initial water fast, I have been thinking and praying a lot what a lifestyle of regular fasting looks like for me in my life right now. 

I am continuing to explore it and talk about it with Jesus.

While it might sound crazy to go on extended days with only water, it doesn't feel crazy to me.


There have been some helpful resources I have come across as I have been learning and praying more about fasting in my life:

- A book called, The Spirituality of Fasting: Rediscovering a Christian Practice by Charles M. Murphy

-A book called The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung. While not a faith-based book, it is more a look at the science behind fasting and its physical effects on the body. I have found it very interesting and helpful.

-A book called, The Jesus Fast: The Call To Awaken The Nations by Lou Engle and Dean Briggs


Please do not hear this as I am a better Christian because I fast a certain way. Fasting will look different for each person.

BUT. 

In the Scriptures Jesus never said "If you fast..." rather He said "When you fast... ." 

Fasting is an ancient Christian practice that would be good for many comfortable hearts and minds...including my own.

No I am not telling you to go home and rustle up some bugs like John the Baptist, and I am not telling you to start a seven day water fast on Monday.

But ask the Holy Spirit what it would look like to fast with a generous spirit in your life. 
And then respond in love.



What has been your experience of fasting on your spiritual journey?

Have you ever done any type of extended fasting?




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