WHY TRY FASTING?
Fasting has made a comeback in popular culture as a life hack. Previously, it was the domain of the devout, universally practiced in every religion as a way of connecting to divinity. Long before we knew what ketosis was, people were seeking the state of heightened awareness it brings as a spiritual experience through physical means.
The reasons people try fasting
People fast for a lot of reasons. Health, weight loss, cleansing, and mental clarity are some physical reasons. Answers to prayer, focus in prayer or discernment in hearing God’s voice are more spiritual reasons. Repentance, humility and penance may be moral reasons. While all of these have some validity, there is one reason you should never fast according to Jesus.
The one reason you should never fast
“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:16–18.
Notice, Jesus assumes his followers will fast. As an observant Jew, Jesus would have fasted at least once a year on Yom Kippur. Many religious people in his day fasted twice a week. We know Jesus fasted for periods as long as forty days. It was definitely part of his practice as it was for his disciples and the Apostle Paul.
That being said, Jesus takes a critical view of those who fast for the sake of appearances. God sees the motives of our hearts. Fasting to impress others is a sure way to unimpress God.
The One Reason You Should Fast
There are rewards to fasting. Jesus said, “Your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” They may be all of the things mentioned above and more. But each of the rewards comes when we “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”. It is then that everything else we is added to us as well.
We fast to seek God.
God is what you need. More than food, water or even air. “Humans don’t live on food alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Jesus said that was why he was fasting. He was feasting on God. “My food is to do the will of him that sent me.” He also invited us into that kind of relationship with him. “I am the bread that comes from heaven that you may eat and have eternal life.”
I have much more to say about this Sunday as I continue my series on Practicing the Way of Jesus. It will also be this weeks topic on my new podcast that comes out each Monday, “The Todd Rod God Pod”. You can get on Apple and Spotify.
Until then, whether you try intermittent fasting, do a Daniel Fast or just give up something for Lent, don’t miss the point and do it for the likes. Do it before God to seek and feast on what truly is the source of your life!