The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on March 5. (We will have a worship service at 7 p.m. I hope you’ll join us.) Traditionally Lent has been a somber time of self-examination, fasting, and repentance (turning anew to God) in preparation of the celebration of the resurrection on Easter.
Fasting is one of those things most of us tend to dismiss. Part of this may be because we are bombarded with propaganda that says eating three or more times a day is important for our health. There is also the subtitle message that it is a positive virtue to satisfy every appetite. But fasting is an age-old practice and spiritual discipline where Christians abstain from food for spiritual purposes. (This is different than fasting to gain political power or attract attention to a cause.) Throughout the Bible there are examples of people fasting, and though he did not command it, Jesus assumed his followers would fast. (Jesus said, “When you fast do not look somber as the hypocrites do…”, Matthew 6:16)
The focus of Christian fasting must be on God. One of the primary benefits of fasting is that it reveals the things that control us. If we are controlled by pride or anger or fear and the like, it will be revealed during fasting. We may rationalize these emotions as caused by the fast, but if we are open we discover these things are actually within us. With that discovery we can rejoice knowing that Christ has the power to heal us. Fasting also reminds us that we are not sustained by food, but “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) We are not to simply abstain from food, but to take time to feast in God’s word.
I encourage you to join me in fasting during Lent. Pick a day each week to skip a meal or two. If possible use the time you would have been eating, to pray and read the Bible. It’s appropriate to drink water or juice during your time of fasting. In addition, during Lent you may want to fast from something that is important to you—TV, chocolate, Facebook, or whatever it is other than God that tends to control you. Stay open to the Spirit and see what God does in your life. And together let’s see what God will do in the life of the church.
Have a holy and blessed Lent.
In Christ’s love,