I just read an article about a married couple at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (where I spent four years on an MDIV) who spend a day each week eating no food, and just drinking juices. The were fasting. My immediate response was, “How many people really fast these days?” I know that around Lent many people give up things except on Fridays, but how many people spend regular time each week to set aside their needs and center around God – the Creator of Life? My guess, is that even if people wanted to, it would be hard to build the discipline to do something that to our culture would seem so drastic. Our culture is a culture of plenty, so why would we go without?
The founder of Methodism, John Wesley, was not a man who had much need back in the day. In fact, when he died, it was a surprise that he had accumulated a small fortune. He had a rule of never living beyond what he needed, and tended to give much of his money away. Not only that, but in his personal discipline he would take a day or two a week and fast, as mentioned before. He would rise everyday early, and spend time in study of the scriptures, and his life was dedicated to helping those in need. The Gospel of Jesus Christ, rightly so, was to him a self sacrificing message of hope to those who were in need.
So why fast? Because there are people across the globe who go without, and it reminds us that they are still in need. It also reminds us that all things in this world are temporary and one day the roles may be reversed. We may be in need, and another may have plenty. Not only that, but going without reminds us of our dependence on God for every thing in our life. Each time you feel a hunger pain, pray to God, and thank him for everything you have. Also pray for those who do not have anything but God, and make plans to help someone out of love for them.
Fasting from anything can be powerful. Whether it is from video games, the internet, or television and yet when it is food that we give up, we make a bigger statement about our relationship to the universe. We stop taking, and instead receive nourishment spiritually from God, which brings life in different ways. Imagine it the other way around. Often we fast spiritually for long periods of time, without any prayer or connection to the one who made us to Glorify Him. And we do this without even thinking about it, and yet the very source of life (eternally) in those moments is set aside. When you fast physical food, make plans to fast the awareness of God’s presence less often – and give Him a right place in your world (the center).