Fasting is one of the most powerful disciplines of all the spiritual practices. Through fasting and prayer, we are able to be more open to the direction of the Holy Spirit. Practically speaking, fasting and prayer can help us deepen our relationship with God. Jesus told his disciples in the gospels, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” He also gives instructions in Matthew 6:16‐18 on how to fast. Let’s look at it a little more deeply to understand it’s benefits as a spiritual practice.
Fasting is a way we can seek God’s face with a broken and repentant spirit – helping us to draw closer in intimacy to the Lord Jesus. As we humble ourselves through a fast, the Spirit will reveal to us our true spiritual condition, allowing us to confess our brokenness to our loving God. It can also open the way to a more transformative prayer life as we learn to listen to the Spirit.
Fasting is an act of self‐denial … and through self‐denial, we begin to be more aware of what controls us. Brian Taylor says in Becoming Christ: “Self‐denial is profoundly contemplative for it works by the process of human subtraction and divine addition.” For example, when you decide to fast from TV for a day, you discover how fidgety you become when you are not being entertained. Or, fasting from negative thoughts can help you catch just how often you slip into a critical mindset. In the process of fasting, as you focus on Jesus, you discover what truly nourishes the soul.
Suggestions: 1) fast from morning coffee, sweets or daily sodas and offer the money you save to mission, 2) fast for a week from media, sports, computer games or social media and dedicate that time to the Lord and reading the & prayer, 3) fast one meal a week, spending your mealtime in prayer for the needs of others near and far God brings to mind, 4) fast from negativity and feast on gratitude.
As you fast, consider using the following reflection questions: 1) When you feel empty or restless, what is your automatic response? How do you try filling the void? 2) What is your attitude about self‐denial? 3) What does it mean to you to “lay down your life to find it again?” [Matthew 16:25]. – Judi Brandow, Communications Specialist