Day Eleven: Fasting
Written by: Leah Chandler
Focus on God: Body, Mind, and Soul
“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:34 ESV)
Jesus’ words strike a chord in our current culture of nearly constant focus on food – whether it be fast food, whole foods, vegan fare, caffeine fixes, or sugary delights. Social media is overflowing with images of delicious meals, sumptuous desserts, and all sorts of snacks, and hors-d’oeuvres to remind us just how much we love our food. We hardly finish our last bite before we begin thinking about what we’ll eat next.
When we reread Jesus’ words in this context – “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” – we may wonder what it would be like to live with such a focus on God and the desires of His heart.
That is one of the central purposes of fasting – going without food for a time so as to focus our attention on God. It is a physical act with a spiritual purpose. While there are some health benefits to fasting, it becomes less of a spiritual discipline if our primary focus is to impress ourselves or others or to lose weight. The goal is to draw near to God while casting away the distraction of food for a time.
It was as a teenager that I tried my first fast and I was amazed by the results. For this fast, I drank three glasses of fruit juice in a 24-hour period – one in place of each meal – but otherwise went about my normal activities.
I worked at Subway at the time, so I made sandwiches for people, chopped onions, and cleaned bathrooms, all while denying myself food.
What I found was that my thoughts were clear – as though they were immediately in front of my face. I saw them, considered them, and then chose to think about what mattered most – God. I spent the day reflecting on a verse that God had impressed on me and was amazed by how that scripture came alive in my heart and mind. Somehow everything in that day seemed connected to this truth that God was communicating to my heart.
I felt a unique intimacy with my Father as I sought him first throughout my whole day. Keeping him in the forefront of my mind made me feel that when I prayed He was at my ear ready to answer.
I didn’t hear an audible voice, but I felt His presence, His constancy, His love throughout my whole day.
I lay my head on the pillow that night, certain that He was as near to me as the breath in my lungs.
I have to admit that not every experience with fasting has been quite so successful or euphoric. There have been days that I’ve begrudged my hunger – which did nothing to help me draw near to God. There was one day of fasting that I went to work and when a coworker offered me food, I took and ate it, only to realize moments later that I had accidentally broken my fast – on Corn Nuts no less!
Fasting takes intention and the right motives. We don’t fast to be more holy but to draw near to God, to seek Him out, to focus on Him in a way that we often don’t in our harried, consumeristic lives. The simple act of sacrificing food to focus on our Creator may bless your relationship with Him immensely. So many of our Bible heroes have practiced fasting — from David and Daniel to Esther and Anna to Paul and Jesus.
If you want to try fasting, remember…
When you fast, you don’t have to start with a full day, but could simply fast through lunch, using that time (if possible) to pray and read the Bible. Or you could fast from after lunch until breakfast the next day. There is something about laying your head on that pillow with a grumble in your stomach that may remind you just how near to you your Heavenly Father is.
There are also many ways to approach the fast – you may do a 1-day juice fast, a week of fasting from refined sugars, or fast from everything but water, it is up to you, but I challenge you to try out this practice that has drawn God’s people closer to their Heavenly Father since the days of Moses.
Write this Way: What would happen if for just one day (or meal) your food was to do the will of Him who sent you to the place where you are? Find a verse to meditate on and commit the time to seek God first. In your journal, write out the verse, the specifics of your fast, and a prayer for God to use it for His glory. Then see what He does!
About the Author
Leah Chandler is a Chicago girl who came to Muncie to go to Ball State, married her college sweetheart, and then never left. She loves being a mom to four awesome teenagers and two dogs, one of whom is delightfully codependent on her. Leah spends her weeks teaching middle and high school English and weekends running with friends, going on adventures with her family, and feeding her chai addiction. While Leah is relatively new to Commonway, she has loved connecting with the people of the church and diving into the diverse community.