Fasting one of the most common spiritual practices amongst all religions.[i] Adele Calhoun defines Christian fasting as the “self denial of normal necessities in order to intentionally attend to God in prayer.” Calhoun further states: “Bringing attachments and cravings to the surface opens a place for prayer. This physical awareness of emptiness is the reminder to turn to Jesus who alone can satisfy.”[ii]
There are various scriptures on fasting. In the Hebrew Scriptures there are examples of both public and private fasts. Jesus himself fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. He also gave instructions on fasting. In Matthew 6:16 – 18 he states: “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”[iii]
In Richard Fosters Celebration of Disciplines we are introduced to three types of food fasts. They include: the Normal Fast which is to abstain from all food and drink accept water, The Partial Fast where food intake is less than normal and The Absolute Fast which is to refrain from all food and drink as Christ did.
Lots of people are challenged by a food fast. This can be one of the most challenging types of fast because food tends to hold a psychological and physical hold on us. [iv] For those looking for different options to food fasting other types can include fasting from television, fasting from cell phones, fasting from computers and or music which allows for the space for God’s voice to be heard.
Have you tried fasting?
If so what type of fasting have you done?
How did you feel during and after?
Did fasting bring you closer to God?
[i] Tony Jones, The Sacred Way (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005) 160.
[ii] Adele Ahlberg Calhoun Spiritual Discipline Handbook (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2005) 218.
[iii] Bible NRS
[iv] Tony Jones, The Sacred Way (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005) 164.