I recently debated with a fellow Christian that fasting was not in and of itself a worthwhile thing to do. I disagreed with this and cited several reasons why one would at least benefit partially from intermittent fasting. Moreover I began to think of fasting in a spiritual sense and how one should do it on a consistent basis; the reason being that it brings us closer to God.
Jesus’ life has two fasting examples. The first time fasting is talked about is His own 40 day fast which is recorded occurring shortly after His baptism. The second reference to fasting is when Jesus is challenged by the Scribes. The wisdom he provides is still relevant to us even in modern days.
Shortly after Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist he set off to the desert where he fasted for 40 days. After doing so Satan appears to him and tempts Jesus by asking Him to turn rocks to bread. Jesus, in his Wisdom cites Deuteronomy 8:3: “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” This wisdom reminds us that we should seek God first in all things, even food, because being truly fed takes place in the mind, body and spirit. It does not come from food or earthly things.
Later, confronted by the Scribes, they ask why His disciples do not keep to fasting on the Sabbath. Jesus addresses the Scribes explaining that when they are with Him, the bridegroom, they are filled; spiritually and thus do not need to fast (Mark 2:19). Now my fellow Christian argued that because we are always with Jesus we do not need to fast. While I agreed that we are always with Jesus, my argument is that we are not always being fed by his teachings. A huge distinction Jesus draws attention to, during his fast, of where we are supposed to draw nourishment from.
On one side, we may generally know that He is with us always, but this is a stark contrast to asking Him help you through everything, even asking for his help before every meal. One is a passive action in which we feel no obligation to do anything; we are “knowing” of his presence but not experiencing it. The other is the active pursuit of Him and His word in all things, in our diets, when we hunger, and when hunger causes us pain.
When Jesus says they are with the bridegroom and do not need to fast. What He is referring to is that you cannot fast when your stomach and spirit are full. All you are doing then is simply take a break from eating until your next meal. True hunger and wanting, the desire to live a truly fulfilled life. That comes from when you are empty and in wanting for food, seeking both spiritual and physical nourishment.
In different words, when you are always with Jesus you don’t really want Him, you don’t even recognize the need for Him, it is when you are without Him that is when you fast, hunger, and should desire His presence in your life even more! Your hunger both literal and figurative should drive every choice you make. How can one put Jesus’ word first when your stomach is full? You cannot. He tells us that we will not be fed by bread alone.
You will get hungry, you will seek food. How many days have you felt hungry, ate, and found true satisfaction?
I am advocating that we use literal hunger to come closer to God. Use our hunger to find satisfaction in what God has already provided for us. Take one away from eating anything at all! It’s a thing that is easier said than done. Many of us wake and eat without a second thought most of us probably don’t go a single day feeling hunger, I don’t.
For myself I will work to fast once again, not just for the health benefits, but because it will force me to seek God in the moments of hunger where he can ease the pain, just as Jesus did while being tempted by the enemy.
Thanks for reading.