Do you ever feel like God is just telling you something over and over to get your attention? If you are like me it takes a few times before you notice something being put in front of you. I might be a wee bit stubborn.
My church just wrapped up a series on Habits and at the start of it they encouraged us to fast. To open up space for God and see what we were idolizing a little too much. As I began to ask God what should I fast from the more I became aware of others who were fasting or encouraging a fast. Each for their own unique reasons, I felt encouraged to dig a little more into the whole fasting practice before fasting without reason.
The only time I’ve ever fasted was because the Doctor told me to so they could check my blood and I begrudgingly complied. I knew it wasn’t just something I needed to do because I just happened to go to church the Sunday we talked about it. If everyone else was fasting, then by golly I wanted to fit in. If I was going to fast I wanted to do it out of spiritual practice and obedience. I once overheard a lady say she was giving up carbs for lent and I wanted to scream at her that fasting and lent aren’t a diet and to dig a little deeper.
I operate with the theory that if you can’t explain it to a 6-year-old, then you don’t understand it. On that principle alone I realized I didn’t understand fasting.
I began my research on why God wants us to fast. I soon realized that when you begin the fasting practice, you should come humbly to God with your fast and see what He has in plan for you.
“But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:17-18).
Our fasting is between us and Him. It is not for the worlds of instagram and facebook. It’s not a suffering we endure at the lunch table and gripe about to coworkers. “Sorry, can’t have gluten. I’m fasting”. No, No and more no. There are no strict guidelines to follow for fasting. No schedule, season, or proper prayer. Leading me to believe that God wanted us to each fast in our own ways on our own time.
As I dug further into the subject I learned more about the history of fasting and why Jesus said we would need to fast. When questions about his disciples not fasting He replied with
“How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom (Jesus) will be taken from them; then they will fast” (Matthew 9:15).
The fast was left for us to practice once Jesus was no longer here on earth and the religious practices would shift a little.
God created 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. You get 12 months per year just like everyone else. These facts won’t change and there’s nothing we can do about. We so often want more time and time to slow down or just stand still all together. The thing is, He gave us enough time. He gave us enough time and we have electronically screwed it up. He is not going to give us any more time, so we need to look at how God wants us to spend our time.
So to the 6-year-old I say this: We fast to make space for God. When we feel that something else is taking up space or time in our day that God wants, we should fast. We should ask God to tell us what we should fast and for how long. He wants us to have the best day every day and sometimes we need to take a break from something and see what He has planned for us.