Fasting and prayer are mentioned all throughout the Scriptures. Fasting is a way of drawing near to the Lord, individually or corporately. Whether it be in mourning (Judges 20:2, 2 Samuel 1:2, Nehemiah 1:4, Esther 4:3), repentance (1 Samuel 7:6, Jeremiah 36:9, Joel 1:14, Jonah 3:7), pleading (2 Samuel 12:16, Ezra 8:23, Daniel 9:3), seeking guidance (2 Chronicles 20:3), or preparation (Esther 4:16, Acts 13:3), it is always to be completely God-centered. Not only did many heroes of the Faith fast, but our perfect example, Jesus Christ as man, fasted for 40 days in the desert before beginning his ministry.
Fasting is traditionally practiced as a way of meditating on and preparing for Easter. On the Christian calendar, tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the day that begins the season of Lent leading up to Easter. Jesus fasted from all food in the desert, but fasts take many forms. In the past I have given up TV and sweets. However, fasting is not a time of self-deprivation for the sake of punishment or earning acceptance or purity. I can't imagine our Father saying, "That's it, beat yourself up a little more!" Nor is it a rigid obligation or way to demonstrate piousness as the Pharisees displayed (Luke 18:12). More than sacrifice, God desires our obedience. What truly matters is our heart.
We are all sinners; we have only been saved by God's grace. It is He who chooses us and redeems us. My motivation in participating in Lent, a human tradition introduced by the church, is to spend a season in focused, unceasing prayer. By fasting something I am more conscious of the impending Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. My goal is not to earn anything, but offer my time, energy, thoughts and love to the Lord. In the spirit of Isaiah 58, I will be committed to a different kind of fast this year and I invite anyone to join me who feels lead.
"What would it look like to focus our preparation for the Resurrection to PRAY, FAST and GIVE…water? Men, women, and children are dying every day because they don’t have clean water. It’s our goal to provide clean water to 20,000 families during Lent. But we can only do it together."
Lord, thank you for drawing near to us when we draw near to you. You are an intimate lover and jealous God. You have blessed us bountifully, and we don't deserve your material, emotional, relational and spiritual blessings. We don't deserve your mercy. As we come before you in prayer and fasting, respond and reveal deep and unsearchable things. May we find profound joy in spending ourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed. Give us a heart like yours. Give us ears to hear and eyes to see. We are your hands on this earth.