“A full stomach does not like to pray.” (Bishop the Short)
Fasting has been out of use for a long time. There is hardly any literature from the 19th century on this subject, while the Bible explicitly offers us this spiritual exercise. Fasting is also not popular in our society, which is strongly focused on consumption. There are countless beautiful restaurants all over the country that invite us to come and eat. Every day there are cooking programs on TV, where we can enjoy the delicious dishes that are prepared in front of us. Nothing wrong with that, by the way, but it does make it a lot more difficult to consider fasting as an option. It also strikes me that relatively little education or sermons are devoted to this theme in churches.
Last week we as a team in Drachten chose to pray and fast. The week before we discussed what fasting entails and why we actually fast. We came to the conclusion that we want to abstain from food for a spiritual purpose. Doing something with a purpose often fits with who we are. Something must have an identifiable purpose. When it is ready, we will evaluate it and see what it has achieved. With that in mind, in addition to praying for the work of Royal Mission, we have started formulating personal goals. The following goals were passed:
- Experiencing God’s guidance
- More power in my ministry
- Understand his voice better
- Insight into the upbringing of children
- Confirmation in the steps I take
It is special to see that great things have happened to some people in the team. Someone indicated that he had received a clear confirmation from God. Yet someone else said that they had indeed experienced God’s leading in recent days. However, there were also a number of colleagues who were somewhat disappointed. The goal had not been achieved or achieved. The fast seemed to have been in vain. So they could have better enjoyed a nice meal in recent days. Unless fasting serves a higher purpose than our own personal purpose.
In any case, from a practical point of view, fasting is at least useful because you suddenly have more time, simply because you don’t have to spend time preparing and eating meals. You can use that time to intensify contact with God. In addition, you will notice that over time, when the feeling of hunger fades into the background, you have more energy and you can concentrate more easily. Even better than if you did eat.
Fasting is replacing the natural tasting with the ‘tasting’ of the presence of God. Turning hunger for food into hunger for God. So it is not a hunger strike to get something done from God, but a reaching out to Him and activating your inner senses. Setting a goal for fasting is certainly not wrong. After all, fasting is also used in the Bible for specific purposes. For example, to gain insight, for spiritual struggle or in emergency situations. However, the goal is never to gain insight, victory in battle or outcome in distress. The goal is always God himself.
The Lord Jesus says the following about fasting in Matthew 9: Jesus answered : ‘Wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the day will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and they will fast.” We fast because we want to express our desire to see the Lord Jesus face to face. We long to have a great wedding supper with Him soon. Until then, we long for more of His presence in our lives, in our families and at Royal Mission. Our focus in fasting is not food, not even not eating, but Jesus!