Please don’t skip this. I know the thought of fasting makes many of us groan with discomfort. Food is something our culture puts a lot of buzz around. Food is at the center of every social gathering. We see an abundance of food and drink pictures on social media. When we are eating something particularly tasty, we might take a picture of it and text it to our friends. We plan out our daily schedule around our meals. When we feel like we had a rough day, we treat ourselves with something sweet. Food has a strong presence in our lives and our culture.
I admit that I like to eat. And when we all saw empty shelves during the pandemic, this put a fear in me – a fear of not being able to find food when we need it. And in 2021 when I went through a lot of stress, I found myself eating more food, more frequently. I used food as a crutch. All of this makes the thought of fasting even more uncomfortable to me.
But my husband and I have been participating in fasts each January for the past couple of years. And I have learned so much each time we go through these fasts.
When we take the time to fast, and set aside our anxiety surrounding less food on our plates, the results can be amazing. The point of fasting is to draw closer to God. You might wonder how laying aside food can do that. When we are hungry, we have an opportunity to run to the Lord and seek His presence and comfort. When we do this, we learn that He is truly all we need.
Does fasting have to be only from food? I suppose this is a matter of opinion and you might have to pray about it to see how the Lord convicts you. I have heard one pastor mention before that he felt cutting back on food was the only real fast. Personally, I am a big advocate of fasting from anything that might hinder your relationship with the Lord – social media, television, radio, alcohol, video games, frivolous shopping, etc. There are tons of things in our lives that we might turn to as an idol or a crutch.
Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. – 1 John 5:21
Some questions you might ask yourself to help discover your idols or crutches:
Do I have to have this item or activity in my life?
What would happen if I had to do without it?
Do I run to this item or activity when I am feeling down?
Do I spend more time thinking about this / doing this than with the Lord?
Does this bring me more joy than the Lord?
Okay, I will be honest. I love coffee. This is something I don’t want to give up. But I have done so at times, just to prove a point to myself. I showed myself that I can live without it, if I had to.
However, I don’t believe God necessarily wants to deprive us of the joys of life. It’s okay to drink a cup of coffee each morning. We just can’t value it more than we value Him. We shouldn’t run to it for comfort, when instead we can run into the arms of Jesus.
But it goes deeper than the obvious things we see at surface level. Sometimes an item or activity might merely be a distraction. In my opinion, this can be even more dangerous than things we know have a hold on us. That is because we might feel this thing in our lives is innocent, and therefore we might not realize how much it keeps us from the things of Jesus. For example, I am convinced that our enemy is laughing over how much time so many of us spend with our heads down as we look at our devices. Social media and smartphones are completely destroying our society.
Perhaps you think I am exaggerating. I cannot blame you. I appreciate having my smartphone and tablet on hand when I need them. But I also know how much of a distraction they are. Many times I will reach for my phone just to do something. I don’t really need to check my email again, when I just checked it within the last hour. Yet I habitually still grab my phone and do so anyway.
Recently my husband and I were at a store. In the parking lot we saw a vehicle pull in and park. Out of the vehicle came the adults and their teenage daughter – all who had a phone in their hands and heads down. It was comical and sad at the same time. This is the kind of generation we are living in. Some people aren’t truly living. Instead they are stuck in a fake world of filtered pictures as they scroll and tap.
It is my opinion that we each might need to fast from different things in our lives periodically, in order to get back to basics. When we lay aside things that tempt us or distract us, we have a chance to run after the Lord and hold tightly to Him. When we do this, we will never regret it. He will fill us and satisfy us.
In the Bible, often times we see full fasts from food as a way of seeking God’s guidance or deliverance from a certain situation. This is something to keep in mind as we fast. You might want to bring a certain prayer request before the Lord. But don’t merely fast as a way of getting something from God. Fasting should draw us closer to Him, even if we don’t get what we want.
With all that being said and since tomorrow is the first day of Lent – I will be fasting from some things over the next several weeks. I will be fasting from social media completely. Also, I will not be posting here on my blog. I also plan to lay aside / cut back on anything that I tend to reach for out of habit.
(Side note – I used the words “cut back” here, but I will be setting specific guidelines for myself. And I suggest you do the same, if you plan to fast from anything. If we say that we are merely “cutting back” then in many cases we might wind up doing that “thing” more than intended and therefore get nowhere. I am just being a little vague because this post is long enough. Haha!)
You might recall that my word for 2022 is Abide. I want to abide in Jesus and His love. I don’t want to abide in food, social media, gadgets, or anything else that won’t truly fill me.
I encourage you to also prayerfully consider anything that you might fast from over the next few weeks. If you do decide to fast, let me know. I would love to hear about it and cheer you on!
Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you. – Anne Lamott
© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas