We constantly seek to fill our needs with tangible items. We were made for abundance. But the Fall turned abundance into scarcity, and it turned us, as John Calvin puts in into “idol factories.” We continually replace the fullness of God with things that become as gods to us.
Even in the days when my wife and I were young and poor, we were far better off materially than almost any of our forebears, or most people living in the world today. Jesus said that it is more difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than a camel to go through the eye of a needle. So, even though we were poor by American standards, we were rich by the world’s standards, and have always been in a position to trust in the abundance of possessions rather than in the promises of God in Christ.
This is where fasting comes into play. For a set period of time, we abstain from something. Ideally, we will use the time that we would have spend — on eating, on watching TV, on using electronic or social media — to pray. Fasting is a voluntary period of deprivation for the purpose of entering into deeper communion with God, the One who truly satisfies. It’s “leaning into” the scarcity that is a product of the Fall, in order to gain the fullness of the One who gives us the true bread from heaven to eat and living water to drink. Prayer with fasting is a living demonstration that along with Job, we prize God’s Word “more than our necessary food” (Job 23:12), and that we value communion with God more highly than the habits that we take for granted.
Honestly, I have to give myself an F minus on this habit. A number of years ago, I practiced semi-regular days of prayer and fasting. But I haven’t put one on the calendar in years.
The elders in our church have initiated one voluntary day of prayer and fasting each month, which I plan on participating in. It’s much easier to pray and fast if a community of people commit to doing it. I hope to be able to keep this up in the coming months and to grow in my desire and ability to engage in this habit.