Why Do I Fast? To pray in His name
Jesus said, “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it”. John 14:13,14.
Anything? Wow! That’s a bit heavy. But the clue is in the little phrase, “in my name”. “In my name” means learning about Him and His ways so that when I pray I am closely aligned to Him.
When they asked Jesus how to pray, he said, “Pray like this; Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:9-13).
He didn’t say, “the way to pray is to get God’s attention through self-deprivation!”
Does fasting conjure up images of hair-shirts, self-punishment, misery and deprivation? It is easy to fall into the guilt trap with fasting. Thinking of it as an antidote to impoverished spirituality. Thinking of it as a way of convincing God we are serious about prayer (if we prayer with just enough pain, He is sure to answer). Thinking of it as an antidote to guilt.
Fasting is one of the spiritual disciplines (alongside prayer, solitude, bible meditation, giving etc). James Bryan Smith says in The Good and Beautiful God, “the spiritual disciplines are wisdom not righteousness. They are wise practices that train and transform our hearts … not ways to earn anything from God, but wise practices that allow God to teach, train and heal us.”
We go without something and we focus a bit more of our attention on scripture and listening to God so that He can speak to us and change us and so that our prayers become more and more, "in His name".
So when I fast I am not seeking to earn God’s favour and get answers to my prayers but I am seeking to learn His ways and thus discover how to pray. Praying not pleading. Learning not earning.
|Why Do I Fast? Remembering a broken world|
|Jesus was sometimes criticised for not fasting - or at least his disciples were. Why did he fast sometimes and not at other times? Because there are situations where justice has still to be done.
|Why Do I Fast? False comforts|
|The bible encourages us to fast but is not prescriptive about how we should do it nor indeed what it is. People fast in different ways and for different reasons. Here is one of the reasons I fast.