One of the great mysteries for me of the Bible is this is why did God choose food and eating as the opportunity for sin to enter the world?
I’m captivated by the story in Genesis. Adam and Eve nestled in the garden with the command to that one tree is off limits. They are not allowed to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Satan shows up on the scene in the flesh to tempt man and woman.
Fast forward into the New Testament, you’ll discover Jesus, at the beginning of His earthly ministry, spending forty days fasting without food.
Satan shows up on the scene when Jesus is staring. He tempts Jesus to turn stone into bread.
Again, why food?
Maybe God chose food because we’re inclined to rely on physical sustenance rather than spiritual sustenance in our life.
Even when we know what is right to do we still rely more upon the flesh than the Spirit.
In Romans 8:5 we read, “. . . because their minds are set on the things of the flesh but those that live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit.”
We need to integrate flesh with spirit.
That’s the point Jesus makes throughout The Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapters five, six, and seven.
“And when you fast do not look gloomy like the hypocrites for they disfigure their faces that their fasting might be seen by others. Truly I say to you that they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face 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.”
It’s assumed we’ll fast. So Jesus is reinforcing what should go on behind the scenes when we do.
Fasting is abstaining, usually from eating food and drinks. That’s it, very simple.
Moses fasted for 40 days. Elijah did the same, and then Jesus.
Usually other spiritual disciplines were exercised during a fast; prayer, confession, even mourning or sadness.
Fasting draws us into a deeper relationship with God.
When fasting, we place ourselves before God, not to obtain something or to change God’s mind, but so that He can change us; a revolution that causes us to adapt to Him.
But the people Jesus addressed aren’t fasting for the right reasons.
During that time period, when people fasted, they wiped ashes on their faces, didn’t wash or bath, wore sackcloth, and then walked around with a dejected look—essentially announcing that they were fasting.
Reminds me of the zombie walk in St. Paul every year. People walking around like zombies dejected about life, acting, pretending like they’re actually engaging in worship with God. Fake, a mask, sound familiar? (Check out the blog, “Don’t Pray Like This”).
Jesus teaches us to cleanse yourself. Take a bath. Anoint yourself with perfume so you don’t smell. Then walk around in the secret knowing that you’re engaging in a deep and supernatural activity with God.
Fasting is about what’s happens between the individual and God that brings about enriching soul nourishment.
Every time I’ve fasted, I’ve received answers from God to complex personal, business, and family issues. Every. Single. Time.
Action Steps: Fast this week. How about Wednesday? We’ll do it together.
Stop food Tuesday night at 7PM. It’s easiest to begin the night before.
Don’t eat for an entire 24 hours until 7PM Wednesday. Make sure you drink water and consult with a doctor is you have any special health issues.
Begin praying first thing.
You’ll be hungry, especially mid-morning. Happens to almost everyone. Keep going. We’re in it together. Pray.
Bring a bottle of water and a few crackers with you in a little ziplock bag. I’m not talking a sleeve of Ritz crackers, because that’s eating. Eat a few crackers and sip of water. The cracker will help settle your stomach.
Stop and pray every time you feel hungry.
It’s a reminder that you’re not relying upon your own physical sustenance for life and godliness but turning to spiritual sustenance to find a relationship with God.
When you end the fast at 7 o’clock, take your time getting back to food—don’t binge on McDonalds. Start with a simple, healthy meal. Then go to bed with a prayerful attitude.
That’s my challenge for you this week. Let me know how it goes. Please feel free to share your experience.