Ah, Jared's Java. Pleasant taste. Slight Monsterism.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fasting Quickly

We live in a culture inundated by food and money. We like lots of both, and we like to control whatever of both that we have. Recently, I did an in depth study of Matthew 6:16-18. Jesus talks about our "guts."

The first thing that jumps out at me as I read that passage is that Jesus starts with "Whenever you fast" or "When you fast" (depending on which version you have). Either statement assumes that we will be fasting. I think that is significant.

In most of the "traditional" church culture, I have heard much more talk about the principle of "slowing" than I have of fasting. I think that's a crime and denying ourselves the opportunity to explore our spirituality. One can not call themselves a true fundamentalist if they aren't about the fundamental elements of Christ's message, and fasting was one of them.

What purpose does fasting serve? Well, what purpose does prayer serve? What purpose does giving serve? You can't just slap one big purpose on either of those and say "It serves this purpose." There are a lot of purposes it serves. I'd encourage you to go to Bible Gateway and place a keyword search for "fast", "fasting" and "fasted". You'd be surprised what you find.

Jesus includes his talk of fasting in Matthew 6 right in there with his discussion of giving and prayer. How important do you think He held it if he placed it between those two principles?

It was, and still is, a big part of the Jewish life-rhythm. It was a big part of the New Testament Church's life-rhythm. See Acts 13:1-3. It should be a part of our own life-rhythm.

Tomorrow I will further discuss the reasons for fasting in more detail, and maybe discuss Jesus' thoughts on giving, as He expressed them in Matthew 6.

Speaking of giving, if you would like to show some true Christian love and mercy to some folks in desperate need of it, you should go to the Toys 'R' Us website, search baby registry #53757294 and buy a gift. Mike and Angela Davis are a local pastor and wife couple that are embattled in their current church. There are some power-hungry, self-seeking people who are causing them much pain and agony and trying to force them out of the church. Angela is about 7 months pregnant. They are severely under-paid and being attacked by people who claim to have the love of Christ in them. So, go there and buy them a gift for the baby shower that will be happening in a few weeks. I know that it will touch them in a way that is beyond your ability to know. Maybe you could fast for a day on their behalf?



R said...

Good topic to bring up. It is foreign in our society to fast. I rarely do it, and then as well, it is hard to come up with a reason why. I like that you put fasting in the same category as prayer and giving.

I look forward to seeing your post about it, in other words!!!

I think in America we are so removed from hardship that prayer and fasting do not seem to cross our minds. It takes more for us to get on our knees---it takes more for us to decide to fast. We are so rich in body, but so poor in spirit.

Chelf said...

I did a study on Fasting once for my camp. I was teaching a class on it. I had only girls, and we had a quiet time before the lesson. I did my thing, and found out after that one of the male counselors (a good friend of mine) had heard some of my talk. I don't care if a man hears me speak, but I know women who are adamant that men not hear them speak. That's another topic. Anyway...

I found that fasting can be from other things than just food. You can fast from TV, Cellphone, or your CD collection. You can fast from News or Friends. It is avoiding something for a time, to focus on God. The idea of using food is the first kind of fast... and probably the most personal. Our bodies are built to have food to sustain us. To ignore our bellies is a powerful statement.

The Jews were commanded to fast on occasion, and the Catholics (and other groups as well) now observe some kind of fast with Lent. If you are not focusing on God and your relationship with Him during your fast, then you might as well have just missed lunch.

My friend was impressed with the fact that I had done more study than suggested by the curriculum, and that I had found a way to make it simple for the young people I was teaching to apply to their own lives.

The most important thing I found (and the point of this whole discussion) is that almost every time the word "fasting" is mentioned, it is grouped with "prayer". We are to attack problems with Prayer and Fasting; both of which are designed to focus our thoughts on God.