Dear Disciples of Christ,
Not to get too far ahead of myself, but it’s February. February means Lent is almost here. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 22nd. And with that, many will go into a Lenten fast. When many think of “fasting,” they might think of not eating. But fasting is about more than food. Fasting is giving up something we find pleasurable. As you begin preparing for Lent, it’s a good time to think about what “pleasurable” thing you might fast from during Lent’s 40 days. However, more important than the “thing” you fast from is this – who you’re fasting for and why.
As always, a great place to understand what God desires from us is – HIS WORD! In Isaiah, God tells us the fasting He does not desire is the kind of fasting to earn the favorable opinion of others, fasting that leads to unhappiness and conflict, fasting that is for show (Isaiah 58:1-5).
Instead, God encourages us to fast in ways that involve loving self-sacrifice in response to His grace toward us (Isaiah 58:6-7). This means responding to God’s love for us by fasting, giving up some of our God-given provision, to benefit others. Maybe providing food, clothing, shelter in some way to those who have none. Fasting might look like this, fasting from your daily gourmet coffee experience or another luxury treat and donating money saved to a food bank or organization like Food for the Poor. Or maybe fasting from that new outfit you’ve had your eye on and supporting a local homeless shelter (e.g. Project Echo or Safe Harbor). Or possibly fasting some of your time spent in personal entertainment and leisure to volunteer at a shelter, school mentoring program, or other organization that helps people in need.
Fasting is a wonderful practice. It worships God by loving Him and others first. It also helps us learn to more fully trust God to provide for our needs as we willingly give to others from what He has generously provided us. Fasting for the Lord – give it a try.
In Christ’s Love,