Fasting is so often taken for granted. We see fasting in scripture and we think “okay, I can cut down my meals” or “eh, that isn’t really a thing these days. I don’t need to do that.” Let me tell you that both views are completely wrong.
In honor of Holy Week my family chose to each fast from something. We prayed about it, and chose something we each felt God put on our heart to do without. For me it was coffee. Now, if you’re like me the thought of giving up coffee for any length of time sounds like a combination of silly and ridiculous, and completely unnecessary. For some it may feel impossible, as silly as that may sound. I went into it with an obedient heart but I was not thrilled about it. I knew I could go without it but I didn’t really want to.
The point of fasting in the spiritual sense is to go without something we cherish or may feel like we need so that through going without we can gain much more from God. We should plan to learn something through fasting, and grow closer to Our Father. I’ll be honest. I really didn’t see how going without coffee was going to help me in this way, but on Day 4 I began to understand the point a lot better than I'd expected to. It hit me hard enough that I wanted to share my experience.
Day one was manageable. I woke up feeling a bit mentally prepared for my lack of delicious coffee and was completely exhausted by the end of the day. Day two, on the other hand, left me feeling horrible and ready to give up. I was so tempted to cave in that I almost did. I had a horrible migraine, was grouchy and tried really hard to keep my attitude in check. Day three was a little better on the grumpy side, and after resisting the temptation on day two I knew I could keep going. Day four I was completely exhausted but that was when I began to understand what was really happening. Day five through seven were a breeze. I'd gotten past the temptation, recognized my cranky attitude, and trusted God to get me through it while believing He had a purpose for me in this experience.
When we resist temptations we grow stronger. We break down the walls that have been built in our minds telling us we "can't". When we lean into God instead of our desires and the things we think we need, we give God space to show us what we really need and how He always provides it. By the time my week of fasting was over I was able to see it wasn't about the coffee. It was about me thinking I needed something to help me get through each day, this staple to my routine, this awakening beverage every day. In reality God helped me see that this was really a mental stumbling block that I was placing on my road to him.
I'm not saying I shouldn't have it at all, but I am saying that sometimes we need to stop and recognize that the things we have or do, and even the blessings God gives us, need to be seen in a different light - in His light. Recognize that all we have comes from God, and all we need comes from Him as well. Remember that He is in control and He provides. He is who we need to lean into, make the staple of our routines, the awakening of our mind and soul, and the focus of each day. Not these earthly things we think we need and tell ourselves we can't live without.
So, what are you convinced you can't live without? What staple in your routine do you lean on too much? Where can you let go in order to let God in?
“Even now,” declares the Lord , “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Joel 2:12