Friday, June 29, 2012

Fasting Reveals Things That Control Us

Monarch butterfly, Green Lake, Wisconsin

David wrote, “I humbled my soul with fasting” (Ps. 69:10). What does this look like?

Richard Foster writes that, once we understand the primary purpose of fasting, we are free to understand that there are also secondary purposes in fasting. The primary purpose is: our response to a call from God to fast, usually in regard to a sacred, troubling event or circumstance. We fast not to get personal results, but because God calls us to do so. This call emerges out of our times of intimately dwelling in Christ.

Foster writes:

"More than any other Discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us. This is a wonderful benefit to the true disciple who longs to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. We cover up what is inside us with food and other good things, but in fasting these things surface. If pride controls us, it will be revealed almost immediately.  Anger, jealousy, strife, fear—if they are within us, they will surface during fasting. At first we will rationalize that our anger is due to our hunger; then we will realize that we are angry because the spirit of anger is within us. We can rejoice in this knowledge because we know that healing is available through the power of Christ." (Foster, Celebration Of Discipline - 25th Anniversary, p. 55)

Spiritual fasting in response to the call of God can produce the fruit of self-control in us, and release us from the terrible burden of always having to have things go our own way.