Lent & Fasting

In the spirit of lent we are reminded to fast. In Joel we see this “Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning". Fasting over the years has evolved into giving up something whereas in the past it meant giving up food. It was an intentional way of seeking God with a sense of awareness you probably wouldn't have had if you did not lack something as essential as food.

spring cherry blossoms by craigcloutier

During a fast the time designated for eating would be devoted to prayer, weeping to God to forgive us and perhaps mourning for what has been lost because of sin. The wages of sin is death and you don't have to die physically to experience loss. Every time you sin you harm yourself and/or others in the process. Sin does not bring forth life, it destroys and hence the analogy that the wages of sin is death.

The call to fast means you intentionally restrict yourself from doing something for example eating. You become more aware your hunger when you are in a fast. Sometimes you miss lunch but you don't feel as hungry as you would if you were in a fast. It's funny how the human mind works. Anyways this restriction also means you are exercising self control. Your prayers in such a time are not accidental. They are well thought out. They are perhaps more authentic because you are giving up something and you are hoping for something in return. You are also setting aside time that you would have been enjoying a meal with a friend or whatever to pray.

I am slowly discovering our God likes to be personal and intimate with us. Jesus asked us to fast and anoint ourselves with oil and water because the fast would be a personal thing.  What I mean is the instruction is not to put ourselves out there but rather to appear as if nothing was going on with us. The oil and water is symbolic of a person looking shiny and well maintained - not lacking. 

Mathew 6:16-18 says 16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,  18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

While I do not know what you are fasting for or whether you are fasting at all I hope we can learn to do it with a heart that is genuine. Drawing near to God and not merely putting on a show. I read in a devotional that we may be fasting something while feasting on our pride. Yikes! As human beings it easy to lose focus on the intent of the fast and concentrate on what we think is an achievement of our efforts. 

Remember how David wore sack cloth during his praying and fasting. It was a sign of humility as he humbled himself before the Lord to fast and pray for forgiveness. Lets take a leaf from this book and decrease that the light of God may increase. Our fast is not about us, it is about drawing near to God. Do you see a theme here, it's not about us friends, it's all for the glory of the Lord.

Listening is loving...

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