By pastor David Speas
Luke 9:23 - And He said to them all, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."
I have a confession to make. I'm not very good at going without. When the electricity goes down or the store no longer carries my favorite product or my wife makes something I don't like for supper, I'm usually not a happy camper. It's not that I can't go without. It's just that I don't want to go without.
Fasting calls us to do something unnatural -- it calls us to go without.
I've often wondered why God would ask us to fast. Here are some thoughts...
Takes our focus off of us. One of the things fasting does is serve as a reminder that life isn't all about our wants and needs. Sure, having a new car or a nice dinner might be gratifying, but there's something healthy about saying, "No," to our will. It reminds us that we aren't the center of the world.
Prepares us for God's work. I recently heard a speaker say that the persecuted church practices fasting for a practical purpose. Should the day come that they be imprisoned, their captors can't use food against them. They practice self denial so that they are free to do God's work. How revolutionary!
Helps us reset priorities. Fasting gives us a break from things we do every day. When we indulge in Facebook or food or whatever we fast on a daily basis, we tend to lose perspective. Fasting helps hit a mental and spiritual reset button.
Honors God. When we suffer graciously we are telling God that He is more important to us than other things. Paul said he had learned to be content with much or with little. Think of how this must've brought pleasure to God. To know that Paul took more joy in his relationship with Christ than the material things of this world!
Identifies us with Christ. Paul said he wanted to suffer so that he might know Christ more. That sound so backwards from how we think today. But this was the mentality of the early church. They wanted to suffer for Jesus so that they might better understand the heart of God and have proof of their love for Him.
I'm sure much more could be said, but I hope I've helped you begin to think differently about 'going without.' No, I still don't like it. But it's also good for me. I trust that this month of prayer and fasting helps you grow closer to Christ as it has me.