Friday, March 27

Matthew 6:16–18 And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Closer to God through Fasting

Fasting has been a meaningful spiritual practice for me, especially during Lent. My fasts haven’t always been about food. To emphasize that point, one article I came across on the Internet said, “You don’t have to simply fast from food. Many Christians today are creative about fasting, and Lent can be a time of shedding whatever is standing between you and God.” Another way to look at it is that fasting is a way to bring you closer to God.

Over the years, my wife and I have practiced numerous fasts during Lent. Sometimes we share a fast, and sometimes we each do our own fast. I have fasted from salt, sugar, sodas, meat, alcoholic beverages, desserts, television, spending money, and people. I fasted from people by taking lunches at work by myself and trying to spend that time focusing on God. I have fasted from all food on certain days during Lent. During those times, I don’t eat any food on Wednesdays throughout the Lenten season.

Fasting brings me closer to God in several ways. I find that my fasts often create reminders of God. When I desire that thing I am fasting from, I remember that I have made a promise to God to abstain from that food, activity, etc. The sense of obedience I feel helps me feel closer to God. My fasts are small personal sacrifices which remind me of the ultimate sacrifice my Savior made for us all. Also, fasting often results in opportunities to draw closer to God. Giving up TV, gave me more time to spend with God in prayer and Scripture.

Today’s Scripture reading provides critical insights to the practice of fasting. First, just the fact that Jesus talks about fasting to his disciples highlights the importance of fasting at that time. As we all know, Jesus fasted for 40 days at the beginning of his ministry. Jesus tells us that we should not advertise to the world that we are fasting. We should keep our fast to ourselves, but know that the Father sees our fast and appreciates the sacrifice we make to him.

As I write this, I haven’t decided what my fast will be during Lent this year. I will spend some time in prayer trying to discern what might be meaningful and sacrificial. Beginning Ash Wednesday, I will go without whatever I decide and continue fasting throughout my 40 day Lenten journey. I look forward to drawing closer to God through this ancient and holy practice.

Jonathan Peterson

Prayer: Lord God, what stands between you and me? What little sacrifice can I make to honor you as my Lord and Savior? May I draw closer to you this day and every during Lent. Amen