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To Fast or Not To Fast… That is the Question

But when you fast...

Matthew 6:17 (a)

I started fasting very young. We used to fast as a family every week beginning at 6:00 pm on Friday and ending at 6:00 pm on Saturday. Our fast was complete, which means we could not even drink water. It seems hard to make children do that type of fast, but on more than one occasion, our parents found us with our hands in the cookie jar and said nothing. They understood how difficult it was for us to fast. However, I am grateful that they developed in us the discipline to fast.

That said, I do regret that we used to fast out of religious obligation, and while our intentions were pure, they were not completely biblical. We fasted because my parents understood that fasting was a penance, a way to get God's favor to bless us, or to keep Him happy. My siblings and I fasted just because our parents did, but neither of us understood the biblical meaning and/or purpose of a fast. A Christian should not fast out of guilt or religious obligation. We should fast when we understand its purpose and our fasting is the result of a surrendered heart.

Today, most Christians tend to fast at the beginning of each year. Most of us do not fast, like the saints of the Bible did. Now it is common to fast coffee, social networks, television, or sweets. Instead of abstaining from eating, we now abstain from enjoyment. While I do not want to talk about whether that is biblical or not, I wonder if that kind of fast is like the fasting my family and I used to do. Do we fast every January because we want to set aside time to commune with God, or do we fast because everyone else does it, or because we feel pressured to fast?

Child of God, fasting is one of the most intimate biblical acts in existence. It must be the result of our heart's desire to spend time in prayer seeking our Heavenly Father's presence, guidance, and strength to do His will. It is an act of a surrendered heart not to move God's hand, but our own stubborn flesh and souls. It must be intentional and done more than once a year, as it does not benefit God, but us.

Please do not get me wrong, I am not against fasting at the beginning of each year, but I do want us to evaluate our motives and reasons for fasting. Are we fasting because it is the "spiritual" thing to do if we are Christians? Are we doing it because we ate too much during the holidays and is it our way of killing two birds with one stone (dieting and being spiritual), or is it really our desire to set aside time to seek God?

No matter what your answer is, make sure that this January if you fast, you are not abstaining from eating, drinking, or clicking just out of religious duty. Make sure you are refraining from consuming or doing things you like, to enjoy intimate moments with God.

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