Fasting is an interesting, and almost forgotten concept here in America. I'm reading my Bible study (go, me!) and the topic this week is fasting and feasting. At the moment I've only made it through the fasting part and I feel the need to let my mind wander on the subject.
Fasting has to be a foreign concept here in America. I mean, how many of us heard "finish your food, there are starving children in China"? Or we were chastised for skipping a meal and told how unhealthy it was for us. Food has become a twisted thing here in this country, what with so many people obese, and other so skinny it's a sickness. Going hungry voluntarily must look just a little crazy.
Now, don't get me wrong, there are other ways to fast. People might do a media fast, or a chocolate fast, or even an electronic fast. Those are still good ways for us to reach out to God, and I encourage anyone to fast from something they believe takes up a good chunk of their day. (No, that doesn't mean you can fast from your children...I believe that is actually illegal, which means someone already tried it!) Fasting in any form I would imagine is pleasing to God, since the end goal isn't to loose weight or save electricity, but to get closer to Him.
Food fasting, though, probably has a special place in His heart. Very rarely in the Bible do you see people fasting from anything else. You might say, well, they didn't have much to fast from. Ok, true, but they could have just fasted from wine. "All you people go, fast from wine, and pray!" No, doesn't have the same impact. There must be something special about food.
There is something special about food! It sustains us! We need food to nourish our bodies. We need food to keep us from getting headaches, stomachaches, cranky tempers and just general body shut down. When we willingly choose to give up the thing that sustains our life here on earth, in favor of having deeper communications with God, I have no doubt He is pleased.
So, why don't more Christian do it? Why don't we hear more about fasting for our nation? Fasting for an upcoming vote? Fasting for a decision regarding a war? Fasting for our children? Why has fasting seemingly gone by the wayside?
Maybe there are more people out there that fast and we just don't know about them. The Bible does tell us that fasting is a private thing, only the faster and God should know. However, there are plenty of times in the Bible where whole nations have fasted...entire cultures, households have abstained from food. Why don't we do it any more?
My personal belief is because we don't want to look "weird". We don't want to be labeled freaks and we don't want to find out that the people we believe close to us might think we are crazy for even attempting such a thing. So many people today do not want to stand out...especially for faith. Besides, don't we have so many other things to do, so many places to go? We just don't have time for staying in one place, not eating and just praying. We have obligations and families that count on us. We can't let them down.
Yet the Bible tells us our most powerful tool is prayer. Can you imagine 12 hours of uninterrupted prayer time? Not having to worry about food, or people, or your family, but just spending time in communication with God? Can you imagine the things you could tell Him...and the things He could tell you? Can you imagine the reaction your children would have (after the initial shock, of course) and how they might learn to pray and dedicate themselves to God in a whole new way? Can you imagine the impact your prayers might have, if you could focus on them more fully?
We have some serious stuff going on in our nation, our families, our homes and our lives right now. There are so many examples of tough times in the Bible, where the people met them, not with action, but with fasting and prayer. The outcome of those times is amazing. Forgiveness, redemption, salvation, hope, life...the list goes on. I think it's time we returned to a tried and true method of reaching out to God. I think it's time we returned to fasting and prayer.