Fasting, Seasonal Reflections

Why Fast? 5 Surprising Reasons to Embrace Spiritual Fasting

why-fast-5-surprising-reasons-to-embrace-spiritual-fasting

Growing up the focus was always on making sure we were fed. We lived, laughed, and loved around the table. Meals were everything and treats were the solution to every problem as well as the perfect means of celebrating every joyful moment. We had a generous, loving, and happy home. When I was first introduced to the concept of fasting, I could not wrap my brain around why anyone in their right mind would ever think that voluntarily depriving oneself of such a bonding, healing, and delicious necessity could possibly be a good thing.

I fought the concept tooth and nail for over 10 years.

But, somehow, despite all my best efforts and my long list of excuses, I could not silence the incessant tugging at my heart that somehow fasting was more than just a good idea (or a bad idea), it was a calling.

5 Surprising Reasons to Embrace Spiritual Fasting

#1 – Fast to be filled / Fast in order to feast

“You have filled my heart with greater joy than when grain and new wine abound” – Psalm 4:8

We must experience and recognize our emptiness in order to fill ourselves with Him.

This was the single most important reason I learned from Wendy Speake’s book Sugar Fast and it enabled me to mentally embrace fasting for the first time after 10 years of fighting against it. Wendy talked about putting her Bible on a cake stand in her kitchen and turning to it every time she felt desperate to break her fast. I never actually physically put a bible on a cake stand, but when I read this, something clicked in my soul. When I want to run to anything but Him, I must run to Him instead. I must train myself to run to Him to find that He is faithful, that He is enough, and that He satisfies the longings of my body as well as my soul.

Run to God instead | why fast | spiritual fasting | lenten fast

One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God”- Matthew 4:4

“There is no need to send them away, give them something to eat” – Matthew 14:16 (Feeding of the 5000)

“I will rain down bread from heaven for you” – Exodus 16:4

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; the one who comes to Me will never hunger, and the one who believes in Me will never thirst”. – John 6:35 

#2 – Fast for Strength – like Christ in the desert

“He fasted for 40 days and 40 nights and afterwards, He was hungry. And the tempter approached…” – Matthew 4:2-3

We are not seeking physical strength but strength to triumph in spiritual warfare.

When we deprive ourselves of Human strength, we come to recognize like Paul that “It is not I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). We acknowledge and subject ourselves to our own human weakness in order to marvel at the strength that flows out from us from a source that we know could not be our own.

“For when I am weak, then I am strong” – 2 Corinthians 12:10

#3 – Fast to show you are serious

You have proved me and you know me – Psalm 139:1

Who am I? What are my priorities?

Is what you desire, whether it be deeper intimacy with God or a favor you desperately seek, how important is it to you? Is it worth sacrificing for? Is it worth more than a second helping?

Prioritize God | why fast | spiritual fasting | lenten fast,

#4 – Fast because I love

“Greater love hath no one than this…” – John 15:13

Fasting is a form of dying to self, of prioritizing God over material goods. Prioritizing Him over food says. “I love Thee more”. “I love Thee more than my comfort”. “I love Thee more than even the good things you have given me” “I love Thee more than a hamburger or a handful of chocolate chips”.

Do you doubt me?

Ask yourself, if fasting did show love, would you do it?

“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”  – Matthew 6:21

*Sidenote* – Can’t do it? Can’t say, I love Thee more than a hidden spoonful of icecream or a bag of munchies? Change it! Say, “Lord, I want to love Thee more. I WISH I loved Thee more. I WANT you to be more important to me than a french fry.” If foregoing this one chip this one time would bring me closer to You, would I do it?

Sometimes it’s not about how much you already love, its about how much you WANT to love!

#5 – Fast because I’m sorry – Reparation

Return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. – Joel 2:12

If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8) We are weak and broken creatures and we have betrayed the God who loves us.

Does giving up sugar (or any type of fasting) really fix the past?

No.

This isn’t about fixing the past or even “making up for” wrongs. And no, it doesn’t mean that my sacrifice is worthy.

On the contrary, I fast in order to say, “Lord, my hands are empty and I have nothing to offer you. I have nothing worthy of your majesty. but, what I have I give you. I can give up this comfort, this food, this little bit of pleasure. I willingly release these desires from my heart just to give you a little bit more space there. Please accept my small, imperfect offering as a token of my sorrow. If I could do anything to mend the bond I’ve broken, I would, and this is just my little way of showing that.”

How can I make a return to the Lord for all the good He has done for me?

[…]

I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of His people.

Dear in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His servant.

Lord, I am your servant

[…]

I will offer a sacrifice of praise and call upon the name of the Lord. – Psalm 116: 12-17

Why do YOU fast? Did I miss any good reasons? Share below in the comments!

Suggested Reading:

Read the Rest of my Spiritual Fasting Series

Carolyn Pereira