There’s a chance that I will be speaking to a group of young (in the faith) Christians this summer about intimacy with God. The material that I’ll be using lists fasting as one of the ways we can nurture intimacy with God. As I read through this section of the material, I was deeply frustrated and disappointed with the misapplication of Scriptures to support various statements about fasting and as a result, I’ve been reading and thinking about the subject for the past several days.
Fasting is not something that Western, Protestant/Evangelical Christians as a whole do either well or often. Consequently, coming from neighborhood of Christianity, I don’t know much about the practice. I can only think of one time that I fasted for a spiritual purpose (incidentally, without receiving the desired result). Obviously, I’m not exactly qualified to speak about it, but I have begun to develop some more nuanced thoughts on the subject.
Previously, my lone thought on fasting was that it’s not required. That’s it. Since it’s not required of Christians, it’s not worthy of further consideration. That was before. Now, I still think that fasting is not required of Christians but it’s definitely worth much further consideration. (Funny how having to teach on the subject has been the catalyst for my further consideration of fasting.) For example, why bother fasting if it’s not required? What are the benefits of fasting? What are acceptable and unacceptable ways to fast? And finally, with regards to the material that I may be presenting in July; does fasting really nurture intimacy with God?
These are the questions that I’m in the process of answering for myself. At the moment, my answers are not fully formed. I can say with confidence that fasting with proper motives and attitude coupled with prayer nurtures intimacy with God. Not because God is enamored with fasting. It’s not something that God finds more or less desirable in comparison to the other activities which also nurture intimacy with Him. Fasting simply is one of many ways we may choose (or not) to draw near to God. And like every imperfect act motivated by love for God and desire to please Him, God responds graciously according to His wisdom.
I’m not planning on taking up fasting any time soon…but I might.