A word this morning about fasting. We are, after all, endeavoring to
- Find those that are lost or “stuck,”
- Release them from their bonds,
- Bring them back into the fold,
- Turn back the enemy at the gate,
- Learn and teach the importance of watchfulness,
- Keep ourselves sober in spirit, ever on guard against evil and destruction,
- and our hearts always in the love of the Father.
This about fasting … at least part of its effect is to keep us on point. The smallest fast, the refusal to eat between meals, as we have said, or to watch more television or to spend more time online than we’ve allowed ourselves, sometimes not any for a season of special nearness to God, keeps us in holy subjection, subjection to our own will as guided by the Holy Spirit.
This is for us, a people who have often submitted to nothing more strenuous than the necessity of showing up on time to keep a job we don’t want to lose, to keeping dishes and laundry clean enough that we have dinnerware at mealtime and clothes to wear when we dress in the mornings. This isn’t that we are good-for-nothings, it is that so little necessity falls to us in this time in history.
Fasting humbles us to something greater than we ourselves, and to efforts in a spiritual vein to rattle cages and pick locks that are otherwise often unmolested by the people of the Lord. No sooner than we begin than we know our flesh is about to pitch a tantrum. We persevere, for otherwise, we
- see those lost or “stuck,” and merely lament their condition
- we wish they might be free
- we look to someone else, perhaps a pastor or good preaching, to bring them back into the fold,
- we mourn and berate the advance of evil
- but seldom see ourselves as watchers on the wall, as warriors in the Spirit,
- and while we may stay clinically sober for social reasons, we don’t often want the divine responsibility of keeping spiritual enemies in our sights, under guard, and stripped of their power,
- and as a result, we never come to know the unfailing love of God for those who have failed in this life, much less His love for those who share His compassions toward them … to us the love of God remains always emotional and seldom, if ever, effectual, and so, His love remains tremendously unknown.
The smallest start will help us to see, to discover, to discern, to decide, to set out, to continue … fasting encompasses all of the above. Fasting increases our ability to discern, to believe, especially in our own rights, privileges, and responsibilities in Christ Jesus, and with the smallest start, or the largest that we can be sure we will not abandon, we are arrived. We have joined in. We have come where we were invited, even commanded. We can gain and grow from the slightest beginning, and our fasting can become strenuous without being at all dangerous to our health, rather the opposite, but let it be without shoddy fear. We, of course, are the mighty ones of God in Christ.
Image … My own incomparable breakfast at Le Pain Quoditien in NYC … which can be part of a traveler’s fast if I skip lunch and snacks. It’s small, but it can be a part of a fasted lifestyle, with time set aside for prayer morning and evening.
Tens of thousands of restaurants in the City, but here is where I can be found.