Why We Fast Meditation: The Gift of Time.
So, our Scripture tonight and many others like it that we could read give a declaration from the Lord. The Lord tells the people to fast.
Notice a couple of things right off the bat: who is called to fast (v 16)? Everybody! No matter your age or background. Rich or poor. Everyone is called to do this. No matter your stage in life: even if you are a newly wed on your honeymoon, Joel calls all the people to fast.
And traditionally, in Scripture this meant that they were supposed to not eat anything from sundown one day to sundown the next day. In early Christian tradition, during the season of Lent, Christians would fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. So Tuesday night through Wednesday night and then again Thursday night through Fridays.
Now to us, if we have never fasted before, that probably sounds really extreme. If you have never tried to fast ever before, I would not recommend only having liquids on Wednesdays and Fridays. Instead, you might consider doing a modified fast where you only fast one meal instead of all meals. Or perhaps you might give up meat on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Also, people have chosen through the 2,000 years since Christ to fast in other ways. Some refrain from things like TV or alcohol or sweets, something that we enjoy for 6 days out of the week instead of just 2 days. And then Sunday is a day off from fasting, where we celebrate in the Lord and take Sabbath from our fast.
Notice that these are habits we can find by reading sources outside the Bible and also from seeing how some people chose to fast in other Bible stories. God never gives a specific list of how we MUST fast, instead we see people in the Bible choosing to fast in different ways.
So, why do we fast?
Well, first of all, it calls us to pause and take time for God. Many of us spend hours each week preparing our food. We cook, we eat, we clean. All of this time that we spend doing food preparation we gain back when we don’t eat.
Of course, in our fast-paced culture, some of us don’t really take time to eat. We run through a fast-food place and we shove fries in our mouths as we drive. I get that. It’s impossible to not do that sometimes.
In either case, when we choose to skip that meal, our body will remind us that something is unusual. Our stomachs may growl. Our bodies may feel more tired. Or if we are fasting from something like video games or another activity we enjoy, we may feel bored.
Fasting develops a longing in us that calls us to pray. And we will have more time—that time we usually spend on food prep or driving to the restaurant, or playing video games to pray.
God gives us the good gift of fasting so that we will have more time. Time to connect with the God of the universe. Time to pray. Time to read Scripture.
Fasting is not simply about refraining from food, it is about filling up that food time or that activity time with prayer.
If you came tonight, you put your name on a notecard at the beginning of the service. During the next six weeks, I want to encourage you to use the gift of time you are given by fasting to pray for someone else in this room. You can check in with the person every week to see how you can pray for them more. And know that someone will be praying for you as well.
(Prayer cards distributed).
Now let us take time to pray and be with the Lord by joining together in this worship song.