In the Bible, fasting is always accompanied by prayer. Fasting is NEVER a stand-alone activity. If you were to search out every instance of fasting in the Bible, you would find that in each passage where it appears, fasting is never done on its own. It is always accompanied by prayer, or some other means of connecting oneself more deeply with God.
How are fasting and prayer connected? When we give up something that we are accustomed to having every day, it creates a new, blank space in that day.
If you give up coffee, it creates a blank space where you would have had coffee. If you give up lunch, it creates a new, empty space – right in the middle of your day. If you give up surfing the internet for 30 minutes each night before going to sleep, it opens up a new empty place in your daily routine.
Fasting is ALL ABOUT what you do with that new empty space. The thing to do is to fill up that new empty spot in your day by doing something together with God:
- Pray, talk to Him, ask Him a question, and sit in silence awaiting His response.
- Read the Bible and take the time to really think deeply about what it is saying.
- Memorize a new Bible verse, and every time you have a craving for the thing you are fasting from, let that craving remind you to recite your new memory verse.
One year, I gave up sodas for Lent, and the commitment I made to God was that every time I craved a soda, I would pray for the lost members of my family. And so for 40 days, every time I had a craving for a Coca-Cola, I would ask God to save my lost family members. I would simply name them before God and ask for Him to bring them into the salvation life with Him.
If you choose to fast from a certain TV show, then whenever that show comes on, you now have a specific, extra block of time in which to pray.
If you give up a meal each day, take those 30 minutes that you would have spent eating, and use them instead to spend time alone with God.
That’s the real purpose of fasting – to create new space in your daily life for connecting with God.
On the other hand, if you SAY you are giving up lunch for Lent, and then you just use your lunch time each day to catch up on emails, then you’re not really fasting – you’re just being a hungry workaholic. :-)
The focus of fasting is very rarely the fast itself, but the prayer that accompanies the time of fasting.
In the next post, we will look at these questions: What does fasting do? What does it actually accomplish?
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