More thoughts on fasting

Some time ago I posted on fasting. Here are some more thoughts …

1. Fasting better enables to enjoy food with gratitude

Fasting reminds us we are creatures. We are not self-existent. As the hunger pains bite, we recognise with gratitude and prayer:

  • Our dependance on creation for existence. We are intimately bound together with the rest of creation. We depend on seasons, rainfall and harvests – something those of us in cities whose food comes from supermarkets are prone to forget.
  • Our dependence on community for existence. We are intimately bound together with other people. We depend on countless people across the world who produce, gather, process, transport and sell our food. We learn again to value then and give thanks to God for them.
  • Our dependence on God for existence. He provides our daily bread and our every breathe. And so we pray again, ‘Give us today our daily bread.’

One of the dangers of fasting is that we despise food and think of it as unspiritual when food is God’s good gift to be received with thanksgiving (1 Timothy 4:4-5). But I suggest that many of us have lost much of our ability to appreciate food because we over-consume. We miss the joy of satisfaction because we are perpetually satisfied. We are still full from one meal when we tuck into the next. Fasting is any opportunity to rediscover the joy of simple food received as a gift from God.

2. Medicating on sugar, salt and fat – or the living God

When we in the western world have emotional needs many of us turn to food for refuge. We self-medicate with food. The result is ill-health and weight gain. The result is an over-consumption of the world’s resources that contributes to the hunger of other people. And every time we miss the opportunity to turn to God. We don’t live by bread alone. We need God in our lives so that life without God is an empty life. And we cannot fill that emptiness with food. Fasting helps re-oriente us away from self-medication through food towards finding refuge in God. We particularly we turn to foods high in sugar, salt and fat. These consitute our comfort foods. We find comfort in sugar, salt and fat. Sugar, salt and fat instead of the living God. We must be mad! Fasting helps restore our sanity.

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5 thoughts on “More thoughts on fasting

  1. Some great thoughts here, Tim, but not sure if this is really ‘fasting’ in any biblical sense. Fasting’s in the Bible is about grief and loss isn’t it? Rather than a spiritual exercise of acknowledging dependence upong God, or a personal discipline to reinforce certain lessons.

    I also wonder why food is singled out. What about clothes? Sleep? Human companionship?

  2. I think there is something in what Mikey says about fasting being about mourning, in that you get passages like Matthew 9:14-15 saying “Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

    I don’t think this negates the above points, but is there an aspect of fasting in which we mourn the state of the present creation and the absence of a perfect relationship with God?

  3. Certainly fasting should make us acknowledge our dependence on God and show by our actions that God is the most important thing in our lives! Of course it could become no more than just a religious ritual. I love the hymn of Wesley which states:
    Thou O Christ art all I want
    More than all in thee I find.

    Also Psalm 63 witten by David who declares ‘My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food’,

    My Soul Thirsts for You

    A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
    1O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
    my soul thirsts for you;
    my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
    2So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
    beholding your power and glory.
    3Because your steadfast love is better than life,
    my lips will praise you.
    4So I will bless you as long as I live;
    in your name I will lift up my hands.
    5My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
    and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
    6when I remember you upon my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
    7for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
    8My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

  4. Certainly fasting should make us acknowledge our dependence on God and will show by our actions that God is the most important thing in our lives!Despite this it could become no more than just a religious ritual making those who practice it not alittle self righteous. I love the hymn of Wesley which states:
    Thou O Christ art all I want
    More than all in thee I find.

    Also Psalm 63 witten by David who declares ‘My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food’,hence a remedy for those of us who like to comfort eat-the Bible way is to find our comfort in God.

    My Soul Thirsts for You

    A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
    1O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
    my soul thirsts for you;
    my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
    2So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
    beholding your power and glory.
    3Because your steadfast love is better than life,
    my lips will praise you.
    4So I will bless you as long as I live;
    in your name I will lift up my hands.
    5My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
    and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
    6when I remember you upon my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
    7for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
    8My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

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