I was challenged by a couple of points from the sermon given at our church on the weekend. Firstly the idea of fasting and secondly what I hold onto most dearly. They both go hand in hand to a large degree.
I have really appreciated James’ recent posts whereby he has asked some taboo type questions, but then helped us to understand that what is important is the state of our heart. Legalistic, pious folk can throw the term “sin” around too loosely at times, applying their own interpretations not founded on biblical teaching but rather their own sense of right or wrong. There are clear biblical principles and boundaries taught in scripture, but with many decisions we make, it comes down testing our conscious whilst in prayer and application of those biblical principles. We need to be careful not to have condemning natures ourselves, but always have a heart to building others up towards Christ and not to just “point out their sin” just to make ourselves feel better or to hide our own rebellion against God, or even our deep rooted jealousy that we can’t/don’t indulge in it!
But getting back the topic, I have felt really challenged to fast more in conjunction with prayer and time with God. Jesus talks about fasting in Matthew 6:16-18. He was lead by the Holy Spirit into the desert to fast for 40 days. This was done just before His formal ministry over the next three years leading up to His crucifixion. It would appear it was a time of preparation for what lay ahead – to spend some focused time with His Father. Clearly part of this time was also consumed by Satan trying to tempt Him away from the task at hand. How easily Satan, this world and our very own natures lead us away from focusing on God. Clearly fasting is a biblical principle that of which we must take notice. But why would we fast? And is it be necessarily fasting only from food?
That leads me to my next point. From my understanding, the reason for fasting is to sacrifice something we may value in order to draw close to God and seek Him. Fasting says to God that we value Him above anything else. Clearly we all need food to survive, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do without food at times to spend that time praying and communing with God in his Word. And this is between Him and us, not for us to “boast” to others about how ‘spiritually mature’ we are. If we do that then we must examine our motives for fasting inthe first place. To live a life that honours God is to desire Him above all else, to choose to live for Him even at times when we may not feel like it. We fast to make time to spend with Him, and show that He is ‘number one’; not food or sport or technology etc, even though those things in themselves are not necessarily bad for us.
A passion of mine is technology. I am fascinated by the advances in technology and how ‘things work’. However I have realised that too often I get caught up in technological gadgets or projects instead of investing my best time with my first love in the Lord. I don’t want to waste my time and energy getting caught up in the latest technological craze or losing my hair (of what I have left!!!) trying to solve the latest problem that technology inevitably brings. I need to remind myself that I have been created to enjoy God above all else and to commune with Him. This alone will feed by soul and draw me closer to Him.
So the challenge I continue to face is to make God my number one. To make a deliberate effort to periodically ‘fast’ from technology and food (I love my food!) so that I can spend more time enjoying the food that God has for me through His Word and in prayer. I don’t want to have a malnourished soul, but one that is full of zest for serving God.