When I started my Are You Fasting…At All? series I was surprised to see people had not considered that fasting does not only relate to food.
Which is why this series is meant to encourage fasting for the Lord in multiple ways. This is not about the health benefits, and I do want to caution you to make sure when you are fasting for the Lord that the health benefits do not become an idol.
Fasting from anything often has benefits be it physical, mental, emotional, and hopefully spiritual. However, our eyes need to be on the right reasons. One particular way of fasting I think that can be helpful to be more aware has to do with taking away what is pleasant. It’s still healthy, and this fasting can be a long duration of time. Weeks, months…a year… even? Clearly, there is someone in the Bible who did this for years.
It’s a sustainable fasting, but, as the title says, it’s not meant to be “pleasant”. In fact, I think this way of fasting is harder than purely fasting from food, especially in our day and age.
When I was going over the book of Daniel with a sister in Christ, I noticed that:
Daniel fasted A LOT!
Daniel fasted in different ways.
He absolutely refrained from eating food, but there were times he fasted and he ate. However, he did not eat, “pleasant food.”
(NASB) Daniel 10:31, “I did not eat any tasty food, nor did meat or wine enter my mouth, nor did I use any ointment at all until the entire three weeks were completed.”
Other versions say “choice, tasty, rich, pleasing, good-tasting,” etc. More than likely, his food choices were plain bread and unsalted/unseasoned plain vegetables. With him not drinking wine, he may have only drunk water. But then, Daniel takes this a step farther and he also fasts from using ointment. Now, other versions say anointing himself, referring to oil. Some say he didn’t comb or wash his hair, or his body.
I think even though Daniel does eat while he fasts what is powerful is the way he is fasting. This is truly all about denying self and putting the focus on God. He didn’t just take something that was pleasant to the body away like food, but he took multiple things away from himself like self-care.
I can’t help but think, as I write this, of John the Baptist. He was said to have grown up in the wilderness (Luke 1:80). He was the picture of a true wild man. He only ate locusts and honey. His clothes were made of camel’s hair. (Mark 1:06).
I wonder if part of the reason he was in the wilderness was that it was a fasting from society, from self-care, vanity, and from most pleasant foods. Though, I’m glad he did get the taste of honey.
John was all about preparing the way for Christ. And anything really that could have distracted him was gone. The years he spent in the wilderness I can’t imagine the kind of time he had worshipping the Lord and praying to the Lord. That’s really powerful.
There are multiple reasons to fast, but as a follower of Christ, I really encourage you to make sure your heart and eyes are on Christ during your fast. Make sure to spend time being aware of Him. Submit not only prayers but songs of worship. Draw close to Him as you let go of worldly things and desires.
We can all fast, but that does not mean we are fasting for Christ.
Could you fast from self-care for Christ?
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