To truly fast you ought to abstain from something important in your life, something you think you can’t go without, something that you will miss. It’s in those moments of craving or missing that you can go to God with your thoughts and also thank him that he does provide for your needs. The hunger or the sense of want for what you’re fasting from also reminds you to make Jesus your primary want.
Jesus also tells us that when we fast, we don’t do it to get recognized by others. You don’t fast to make others say, “Wow, that person is so spiritual,” or “Did you see Bob is giving up food for a week? He must have such a good relationship with God.” That’s not why we do it. Fasting is something you do for your own relationship with God. It is an exercise, a discipline, which brings you closer to God and helps you realize just how much God provides for you. That’s why he tells us to wash our faces when we fast. The Pharisees would fast and make their faces look disfigured and gloomy so when someone noticed something was wrong, they would be able to talk about how they were fasting. They fasted in order to receive the attention, praise and glory from man. That’s not what Jesus wants when he calls us to fast. He wants us to give up something important and remember that he provides….
Fasting is a great way to remember God throughout the day. If you fast from food, for example, you will get hungry, and you will remember why you are not eating on that particular day. In that moment, you can go to the Lord and thank him that he provides for you.
Ultimately God wants our hearts. When we fast, we are giving him our hearts. We are telling him, “You are what’s most important in my life…all of this other stuff pales in comparison to you. I find everything I need in this world in you.”
(Source: Zach Zehnder, Red Letter Challenge, pp. 64-66.)
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