Fasting is a call to embrace voluntarily weakness in order to experience more of God’s presence. Mt. 6:1-23 points to five expressions of “voluntary weakness” in which we invest our natural strengths (food, time, money, words, energy and influence) in our relationship with Jesus.
Fasting is VOLUNTARY weakness in your areas of natural strength. Voluntarily you make the choice to give up the energy and pleasure that food gives you. Voluntarily, you forfeit the compliments that that new dress would give you when you choose not to buy it. Voluntarily, you give up a large portion of your income to give to charities, the poor, and those who need it more than you. Voluntarily, you give up ten percent of your earnings to God. It is a choice. You have to first make the decision to not buy the shoes, not spend your money on things that give you pleasure, not eat the food that would give you ectasy, not saying exactly what you want to say to your boss, not buying that new car & making due with driving the lemon for a time, not date the hot guy that would not meet God’s standards but DeFinItEly meets the worlds, not going out and instead choose to stay in and worship God …study God. These are choices that you make. Living fasted is ON PURPOSE. Yes God will give you Grace. This involves dedicating a large slice of your time to praying, praying for that grace, and drawing from God’s strength. It involves most of the time, making yourself lesser to make God greater. But it always begins with a decision that you make on purpose and with purpose. Fasting means giving away your strength with faith that God will return it to you in one way or another, in this age or the age to come.
We are called to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Loving God with All our Strength means loving God with our resources: time, money, physical strength & abilities. God doesn’t need these things. But when we offer these things to Him in love …when we PRESS to obey Him by giving above and beyond to the point where we FEEL the weakness…something happens inside of us in the STRUGGLE , in the REACH to obey. We are brought into a deeper love & revelation of God. He gives us the ability to love Him deeper. You will never mature in love for God without endeavoring to love God with all of your strength. Until the area of our strength is intentionally part of our pursuit in loving Him, we will always come up short and immature in our love.
During this reach, we encounter many moments of uncertainty & humility. Still God wants us to press on and fast in these arenas. This is the fasted lifestyle (Matt 6: 1-23). This is the life Christians are called to live. Fasting is non-negotiable if you want to mature in your relationship with God. God understands the dynamics of the human spirit, psychology, and physiology, and He has commanded us to live a fasted lifestyle to position our mind, heart, and spirit to interact with His spirit and receive more of Him along with being able to love Him as deeply as He loves us. And when we can love Him in this way, we will be ready to do powerful things in our lives and in the lives of others. That is so exciting, and what Christ-lover does not want this? This is the greatest reward to be able to have love poured into you by the Holy Spirit and to pour your love out to God just as deeply.
Asking God for the grace of fasting should be a common prayer. Not just food. Sometimes food seems to be the easiest to fast when I am reaching into my wallet or stifling my pride. One of the things that I have to pray most often is for the grace to live fasted with my money and time. God has certainly given to me grace in these areas since I began asking of Him this. It is difficult when financially I continue giving and tithing and just when I am down to a very uncertain bank account balance he asks me to give once again. This stretch is certainly felt throughout my spirit. God knows me and loves my obedience and faith. I feel this makes a statement to God that everything I have is His, is because of Him, and everything I have is to be used to glorify God. Is it difficult to give that tithe every month or give to those who need it rather than going to Starbucks when I want? Yes. I love Starbucks. But my reward is in heaven, and it is much better than a latte. Just as the elders lay down their crowns of gold (hard-earned rewards) because God is deserving of the glory, just as the woman wasted her inheritance and showered Jesus with her perfume, I will lay down my income, my time, appetites, pride, and all offerings to my God.
7 A thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure…8 I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness (voluntary weakness). Therefore…I boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest on me. (2 Cor. 12:7-9)