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Why Fast?

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I used my free time during Spring Break to catch up on some things and get some writing in, but it’s been hard for me to think of a good topic to blog about. But during Spring Break, my church decided to take a day to fast and pray for persecuted Christians around the world. Through the process, I’ve found that several people didn’t know what the point of fasting was, or had never done it before. So I thought I’d share my experience with fasting.

Bananas, Fruits, Food, Grocery Store, Supermarket

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When I was younger, I didn’t really fast either. Sometimes my parents did, but I didn’t think it was necessary to being a Christian, and sometimes it even felt like only the ‘really good’ Christian’s fasted. It wasn’t for everyone. Anyway, this changed when I went to college. I attended a Lutheran University and fasting was more of a normal thing in that environment. They practiced Lent, the giving up of something specific for 40 days (From Ash Wednesday to Easter) and I decided to join in and give up something too. Once I think I gave up french fries, another time I gave up Hulu. Anyway I got more used to the idea and practice of fasting. We also had something called Thirty Hour Famine, where we would not eat food for about 30 hours. It was supposed to help us be aware of others around the world who were hungry.

So as I got out of the college life and moved on to young adulthood, I still would fast occasionally. Sometimes it was because I was trying to make a big decision and wanted to be focused on God as I made it. Other times it was because I really cared about someone who was struggling, so I would fast and pray for them. I also fasted several times in order to break a bad habit or cycle. I’d notice that some activity or thing (like dessert) I enjoyed was becoming an obsession, so I would fast from it for a day to break the craving.

Well when my church fasted this past week, they gave everyone a good description for why we should fast. “The primary purpose of fasting is to express a deep longing of our soul for the presence of Jesus in a particular aspect of life. Jesus taught this in Matthew 9:15 where he answered a question about why his disciples were not fasting in his presence. Jesus said ‘Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is take away from them, and then they will fast.’ His point was that when he was with them they did not need to fast but when he was gone they would fast as an expression of their longing for his presence.”

I think it’s important to remember why we do something like fasting. It can be easy to do any of the Christian Disciplines with the wrong motive. Fasting is not about proving you’re a good Christian, or better than those who don’t fast. It’s not about giving up something, just for the sake of giving it up. It shouldn’t be done just because it’s a tradition, or because it’s what everyone else is doing. We should fast, because we long for Jesus’s presence. And as we fast, our hunger should point us back to Him.

I’ve found that when I fast, hunger pains can be a good reminder for me to pray. In addition, because I don’t have to cook, clean dishes, or spend time eating, I have a lot more time during the day to do things like pray or read the Bible. Fasting can be very beneficial to our walk with Jesus, and it’s helped me personally.

Even though fasting may seem hard to you, I’d like to encourage you to give it a try. It really isn’t that bad. True you’ll feel hungry, but that goes away eventually. And even if you can’t give up food for health reasons, you could try fasting from something else that takes up your time, like watching TV or playing video games.

But if you do fast from food, take it slow. Maybe try a 12 hour fast or 24 hour fast to start out with and drink plenty of water. But most of all, remember that why you fast is most important. Spend time with Jesus during your fast and let Him fill you up.



So, I came across this video the other day, and it really got to me. I started wondering how I would act if I was forced to feed myself and my family like these little kids. I would probably be complaining, crying, and feeling sorry for myself. Here’s a link to the video so you can see it for yourself:

Now I don’t want to make people feel guilty, but I do wonder if something stirred in you when you saw these kids picking up crumbs. I know it did for me. The world is hungry, and when we see that hunger, something in us feels compelled to help. Or at least that’s what happens to me. But this feeling isn’t restricted to just physical hunger.

When I see someone who feels lost, like their life has no meaning or purpose and they’re hungry for something, that also compels me to help. People try to fill this other hunger with all sorts of things, even actual food. I usually try to fill it with entertainment, comedy shows, and You Tube videos. But I know, it won’t go away. I can’t watch enough funny things to make me happy or satisfied. It’s like trying to pick up crumbs to satisfy a deep hunger, it will never make that hunger go away.

But there is someone who can fill it, and that’s Jesus. He says “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life.” John 6:47-48. He is the only one that will fill this other hunger; this spiritual hunger. Maybe you already believe that, but there’s someone you know who is still hungry. I’d encourage you to point that person to the One who can satisfy.

Or maybe you feel compelled to help children who don’t have anything to eat, like the ones in the video. Here’s an organization I use to help people in other countries. Feel free to check it out. The link will take you to a page where they are asking for donations to help with the crisis in Iraq.

But whatever you do, don’t ignore the hunger in the world. Whether it’s your own, or someone else’s, it does matter. Hunger points us to where there is a real need. So be a part of the solution.

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