Some people “fast” during Lent. But what is “fasting?” When people hear that word “fasting” they think of giving up some kind of special food - for example, chocolate or cookies. But why do this? Well, we should NOT fast with the idea that we’re somehow earning points with God because there’s nothing we can do to earn His love or blessings because we deserve nothing and He gives all to us by pure grace.
In addition, we should NOT fast as a way to sympathize with the sufferings of Christ because how can the “suffering” we experience in giving up chocolate or cookies even begin to compare with the physical and spiritual suffering Christ endured for us on the cross? So, why SHOULD we fast? One reason for fasting is to create more time in our schedule for prayer and meditation on Scripture. In the early church it often took a lot of time and effort to gather food and prepare it for a meal. By fasting from a meal Christians would then use that extra time for prayer and meditation on God’s Word. Of course, in our modern world of cooking appliances and instant food, meal preparation doesn’t take as much time. Therefore, in order to make more time for prayer and meditation on Scripture we may need to fast from other things – such as watching TV or playing video games or work or sports or hobbies. Another reason for fasting from food or other things we enjoy is that we engage in self-discipline and learn to say “No” to ourselves and then also focus on saying “Yes” to serving others. For example, you might “fast” from eating out during Lent and give that money to the local food pantry. Or you might “fast” from watching TV and use that time to volunteer at a local charity or to help a needy neighbor. With that in mind, we should all pray about how we might “fast” for our own spiritual benefit AND for the benefit of others this Lenten Season.
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Thomas Eckstein