“When you fast . . .”
Scripture: Matthew 6:16-18
16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Reader: This is the word of the Lord. Response: Thanks be to God.
Fasting has long been a religious discipline in many faiths. In the Jewish and Christian tradition it is associated with repentance. We read in the Scriptures frequently of “fasting in sackcloth and ashes.” The longing that comes within us because of a lack of food during a fast, reminds us of our complete and utter dependence upon the Lord. Fasting is a symbol of the discipline it takes to turn away from sin. Fasting is not an isolated, individual act solely. It also has relational dimensions. Though it is the individual who is fasting, that person is in relationship with God, self, and others with whom we come in contact. Fasting sharpens the spirit and quickens spiritual perception in our interactions. The mind sharpens. There is a penitential aspect as well as an underscoring of our utter dependence upon the Lord. Fasting of some sort is a normal part of Lent. Again, Jesus said when you fast not if you fast. Sometimes there are short total fasts for a day or two or more. On other occasions there are longer fasts, maybe from specific foods, or perhaps choosing to eat only one meal a day for the specific purpose of being liberated from a fleshly habit or desire. Fasting was a part of the life of every major character in the Bible. Jesus fasted. In Jewish culture, fasting was part of a regular weekly practice by the religious leaders. Maybe they knew something we don’t. If this is a new area to you, it will be worth doing your own Bible study on “fasting,” and then doing it. As Jesus points out, the whole purpose is to deepen one’s relationship with our heavenly Father. Try setting aside some regular period of fasting, perhaps one meal or one day a week for starters.
Music: “It Is Well with My Soul” New Apostolic Church Silvertown Choir and Orchestra (WOW!) in Cape Town, South Africa another DO NOT MISS
Prayer: Come now, little man turn aside for a while from your daily employment, escape for a moment from the tumult of your thoughts. Put aside your weighty cares, let your burdensome distractions wait, free yourself awhile for God and rest awhile in him. Enter the inner chamber of your soul, shut out everything except God and that which can help you in seeking him, and when you have shut the door, seek him. Now, my whole heart, say to God, ‘I seek your face, Lord, it is your face I seek.’