Question and Answer of the Week: Fasting
Fasting seems to be an oft-neglected spiritual discipline for Christians these days. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions on fasting?
A few years ago I was involved in a study group with some younger men, and we went through Dallas Willard's book, The Spirit of the Disciplines. One of the issues we discussed was fasting. Below is what I wrote to them when we decided as a group to fast:
Fast for a full day. We came to this because fasting is one of the least practiced and/or understood of the disciplines among us.
Our schedules and family situations differ, so choose different days accordingly.
For some of us, including me since I'm insulin-dependent, this will be a juice fast, no food, but the option of juice along with unlimited water.
The point of fasting is not to be miserable or to focus on being hungry, but (in part) to train our bodies by saying no to them for a while. Every time there's a hunger pang, it reminds us we're doing something different. The goal is to then think in terms of following Christ. Let our hunger remind us of our deepest hunger for God.
Suggestion: Choose a verse or a passage of Scripture to repeated come back to during the day. By meditating on it continually you will probably also memorize it. I was looking at a few passages I wanted to memorize, but then for some reason I was drawn to Proverbs 3:5-6, a passage I memorized 35 years ago as a brand new Christian in high school. I know it by memory, but I plan on meditating on it, and each component of it, throughout the day tomorrow, even as I do other things, including some work on a few of my writing projects. I wrote it out by hand and will have it posted on my computer screen and probably elsewhere, and maybe in my pocket too. As I wrote it out I broke it into small chunks, each of which has one or more components to focus on:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heartSo, choose your day to fast, and choose some Scripture to fall back on as your reference point.
and don't lean on your own understanding
in all your ways acknowledge Him
and He will make your paths straight."
Let hunger remind you to pray and to meditate on the Lord, and delight yourself in Him.
John Piper has some good information on fasting:
The PDF file of his book on fasting, A Hunger for God
A Piper Sermon (shorter): "Fasting for the Father's Reward"