Many people fast and may not understand why they do what they do. Here are some reasons why you should fast.
We are well into the Lenten season and a common practice during Lent is that a fasting. Unfortunately, many do not understand what fasting really is and why Christians should fast. In this post we will look at some of the reasons why Christians should fast.
Many people fast for the wrong reasons. Here are a couple:
Fasting to lose weight. Fasting is about self. So if the reason for fasting has a self in it then you may be fasting for the wrong reason.
Fasting to gain God’s attention. We do not need to fast in order to gain God’s attention. We already have it without fasting. God is already looking at us. The Word of God tells us that we are the apple of his eyes. So God is already looking at us and loving us.
So we have looked at a couple reasons why we should not fast. Here are four reasons why Christians should fast.
The first one – Mastering ones self.
So what exactly is mastering of oneself? The best way to look at this is to think in terms of two people, where one person must do exactly what the other one tells them to. What does that make them? It makes them a slave, isn’t that right? Many of us are slaves to ourselves. We have to eat when self says to eat. We have to drink water when some says to drink water. We have to snack when self says to snack. We would sleep in when self says to sleep in. We must buy new stuff when self says to do so. We must look at the television when self says to do so. We must interact with our phones when self says to do so. And the list goes on, and on, and on.
Jesus came to set us free not only from the bad things but also from being slave to the good things; legitimate pleasures of life. Fasting, or rather through fasting we receive the grace to say no to self. So we grow in self mastering through fasting.
The second reason for fasting is to receive the grace of obedience and discernment.
The church has two days for fasting – Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. On these two days, we recognize the authority of the church and be obedient to it.
When we look at the New Testament we see that when the Apostles had important decisions to make, they would do so after a period of fasting. Why is this? It is because the grace of discernment is received through fasting. Obedience and discernment go hand in hand. Fasting helps us to achieve this.
The third reason for fasting is that of worship and sacrifice.
Many people approach fasting with the wrong intention in mind. They approach fasting from a self point of view when in truth and in fact the object, the primary objective for fasting should be to draw closer to God through Jesus Christ his son. Many approach fasting from the point of view that if they fast they will lose some weight, when that is not the intention or rather, that should not be the intention. Fasting is meant to be a sacrifice, and sacrifice should be oriented or should lead to worship, worship of the one true and living God. Fasting is meant to be the sacrificing of legitimate self pleasure for someone else. That is why fasting would normally be accompanied by almsgiving. It is meant to be a sacrifice. So for instance, if my fast is from something that I would normally consume, say food, then I give that food to someone who needs it. If my fasting is from something that would normally consume my time , then I give that time to God through prayer or through service to the Body of Christ. So fasting should always sacrifice.
The fourth reason for fasting is to be or to act as a co-redeemer with Christ Jesus our Lord.
Saint Paul in his letter to the Colossians right in Chapter one;
It makes me happy to suffer for you, as I am suffering now, and in my own body to do what I can to make up all that is still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body the Church.
Saint John Paul the second in 1984 wrote an Apostolic letter – Salvifici Doloris – where he speaks of suffering. In this letter he spoke about the grace to unite our sufferings with that of Christ and thus becoming co-redeemers with Christ. So we have seen from before that fasting is meant to be sacrifice. It is meant to be a time when we give up something of value. This sacrifice translates to worship and it can also be united with the suffering of Christ on the cross – the perfect suffering of Christ – for the redemption of souls.
So to quickly recap; when we fast not only do we do so for self mastering so as not to be slaves to the legitimate pleasures of life; or to receive the graces of obedience and discernment; or of worship and sacrifice; but we are also working alongside Jesus as it were, to save souls – to redeem the world.