(This is day eighteen of the Rediscovering the Christmas Season Advent Study that can be found here. You don’t have to start at the beginning. In fact, you can jump in any time or go in any order. Care to join?)
Read Isaiah 58 and Matthew 6: 16-18.
Christmas is generally a time for feasting. Take at least a day to fast from something.
Why do you think Jesus asked us to fast? What kid of fasting does Isaiah say the Lord requires? Fasting requires discipline, which is something all of us could use more of. Okay, so I could use more. To me, it is like dedicating a thing or the time required to do a thing to the Lord. It’s saying He is more important than whatever I’m fasting, that I’m focusing on Him. Boy, do I need a focus reset! His fasting is sacrificial, it seems, a giving to others, a setting free.
Why do you think it is difficult for people to make fasting a habit? How can you incorporate fasting into your regular worship? I think it’s tough because fasting is hard. We can be kind of comfortable, and we like that. It’s uncomfortable to fast. It requires a sacrifice. It might even require us to say no to somebody or put us in a position to explain our faith. Some people struggle with that. It’s something not a lot of people understand, because a lot of churches don’t teach it anymore. It almost seems like a Ghandi/mystic thing. I think Satan has perpetrated a lie about it, and we’ve gone along with it.
Journal about your experience with fasting. What did you learn? How did it change you? Consider joining or forming a group of believers who set aside the first 21 says of the New Year to fast something. Honestly, I probably need a fast. I’ve gotten a little strong-willed and likely need to find a way to remind myself it’s God who is in charge. Sounds like a good way to start the New Year, huh? I have fasted before and, trust me, it does increase discipline. It does increase awareness of God. I’ve learned I don’t need the things I think I need and that there are a lot of things that I can make into idols in my life. Fasting doesn’t have to be full-on no food. It can be fasting something that takes up time or something that you feel you have to have every day. It can be one meal a day or a full day of no food. A TV show or TV completely. Coffee. Chocolate. Anything it hurts to give up. Because every time you feel the pull for it, it focuses you on God.