Some years ago, I wrote an article entitled, “8 Reasons Leaders Should be Fasting.” At that point, I was generally practicing the discipline of fasting one day per month. More recently, though, fasting has become even more of a regular practice for me. Here’s why:
1. Honestly, my prayer life had become routine. When I realized that prayer had too often become perfunctory and stale, I didn’t want to stay there. Fasting has deepened and increased my praying.
2. Regular fasting has taught me that God produces in us the discipline we need to fast. That is, obedience in fasting has reminded me I can do all things through Christ (Phil. 4:13)—and that truth helps me not to be afraid of failure the next time I fast.
3. There really is something both weighty and freeing about prioritizing the spiritual over the physical all day. My practice during fasting is to pray at certain times during the day, while also praying every time my body craves food. That usually happens a lot, at least in the first days of fasting—which means I pray more. That’s good for me.
4. God has deepened my burden for friends and loved ones to know Jesus—and seeking him fully without regard for food is an expression of that burden. I first learned of this kind of burden from friends who fast and pray every Friday for their children, but that head knowledge then has become even more real experientially for me now. It’s almost as if I don’t even think about eating as long as I’m interceding for others.
5. I’ve seen God dramatically answer prayers I prayed during fasting. The most obvious example is my mom’s recent Christian conversion at age 79. Fasting is not a “magic bullet” to gain God’s approval, but he does hear when we seek him and his intervention more than we seek food on our tables.
6. I’ve had to admit that unhealthy eating can be my first “go to” response when I’m stressed. I try to eat well in general, but it’s usually worry and stress that lead me to ignore my healthy patterns. I want my response, though, to be running to God rather than food—and fasting takes me there.
7. I’m now an interim pastor—and that role has increased my desire to see God work. Interim or not, I still have the responsibility of shepherding God’s people for now. I desperately need God’s help, and I so much long for him to work in the congregation that fleeing to him and pushing away from the plate seem almost natural.
If fasting is part of your spiritual walk, what are you learning about this discipline? If fasting’s not a discipline for you, how might you start?
This article originally appeared on ChuckLawless.com and is reposted here by permission.