Monday, March 20, 2006

FASTING....AGAIN


On February 13 I started a discussion on Fasting. If you go back to that post, you will see in the comments that I left much scripture in support of the need to fast in the comments. So I continue…

“The Christian fast signifies, above all, an exercise of penitence and sacrifice; but, already for the Fathers, it also had the aim of rendering man more open to the encounter with GOD and making a Christian more capable of self-dominion and at the same time more attentive to those in need.”(www.vatican.va)

Fasting is univocally commended by the early church Fathers, along with disciplines such as prayer and silence, interestingly enough fasting is the universally applied spiritual discipline.

The saints of the church speak with one voice: gluttony is a great sin and fasting is a great virtue. The New Testament sets forth a powerful concept that the appetites or lusts of the body are seen as the root of much evil. Anyone can appreciate the inner battle between the good the “spirit” wants and the sin that is the tendency of our flesh. Simply put, physical disciplines aid our spiritual development precisely because the body and the soul are so intricately intertwined. One reason we should fast is to develop self control. Through out his writings, Paul consistently urges moderation and self-control; something that our culture is not good with.

Fasting is a spiritual remedy to what is, really, a spiritual problem. To fast shows our reliance on GOD for all things. It reminds us that we are, ultimately, spiritual beings. It confirms that “man does not live by bread alone.” Fasting trains us in righteousness and as we practice this form of self control we are not alone…the Holy Spirit is there with us as we develop the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

Most people find fasting next to impossible simply because food has both a physical and a psychological hold on us. The cravings can be hard to deal with but the psychological dependence on food can be ever harder to break. Most of us pattern our lives around to three meals and many snacks per day and we feel incomplete with the oral fixation of food or coffee or gum. One of the disciplines of the fast is to find other prayerful or otherwise productive ways to use the time usually spent eating and drinking.

John Chrysostom said:

“Dost thou fast? Give me proof of it by thy works!
Is it said by what kind of works?
If thou seest a poor man, take pity on him!
If thou seest an enemy, be reconciled to him!
If thou seest a friend gaining honor, envy him not!
If thou seest a handsome woman, pass her by!
For let not the mouth only fast, but also the eye, and ear, and the feet, and the hands, and all the members of our bodies.
Let the hands fast, by ceasing from running to the unlawful spectacles.
Let the eyes fast, being taught never to fix themselves rudely upon handsome countenances, or to busy themselves with strange beauties.
For looking is the food of the eyes, but if this be such as is unlawful or forbidden, it mars the fast; and upsets the while safety of the soul: but if it be lawful and safe it adorns fasting.
For it would be among things the most absurd to abstain from lawful foods because of the fast, but with the eyes to touch even what is forbidden. Doest thou not eat flesh? Food not upon lasciviousness by mean of the eyes.
Let the ear fast also. The fasting of the ear consists in refusing to receive evil speaking and calumnies. “Thou shalt not receive a false report,” it says.
(www.ccel.org)

Thoughts?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

This post made a lot more sense than the last one. But I still have some questions. I read it in the Bible sometimes that people fasted when they wanted something from God. It was like they were showing God that they really really wanted it. So, do we just fast whenever or do we fast if we want something from God? And for how long?

johnniecomelately said...

Soulpastor,

Nice newspaper article!
http://www.winnipegsun.com/News/Winnipeg/2006/03/20/1496297-sun.html

Comment on fasting later.

jcl

kenny said...

i just recently finished the Book called "The Heavenly Man". A true story of a Christian Man in China and his life in prison, life out of prison...etc. He mentions fasting quite a bit. The outcome of his fasting always seemed to end in the outpouring of God's power in the situation...be it people being healed or saved. It inspired me to think about fasting and how I will apply that to my life...how long and when to do it.
I like the quote...that we fast with our eyes, hands, feet, mind, mouth. We are very busy people, but sometimes we need to take a step back and stop for a while. Could it be that fasting is a type of spiritual check? It makes us stop...remember where our priorities are supposed to be. Realigns our focus on God, first and formost as our center of everything. That we rely on Him and Him alone for our everything, because apart from him, there is no good thing.
So ya, let's fast!!!

Great article in the paper, and even more so, the life message on sunday was...inspiring! Wow, I left in awe of God and His glory in our lives.

SoulPastor said...

Hey Nony
Your question is interesting… “do we fast if we want something from GOD?” I think that is a great question but it is one that makes me shudder. The paradox is when we fast we are always looking to GOD for something in a sense but my fear is that people would see fasting as a formula just to get something off the “Cosmic Santa!” Maybe, we fast for a answer to a specific prayer, or we fast for direction etc. so in a sense we are wanting something from GOD. BUT, when we fast, can we not fast just to get closer to GOD? To build intimacy, getting rid of the distractions and focusing on building the relationship. So in a fast, one could just spend time in praise and worship of the Almighty!

As for the length of a fast. One must always be careful. Personally, I have never gone more than a few days. Friends of mine have gone for longer and even one friend of mine did a 40 day (juice only) fast. I believe that even before a person tries fasting that they should have a medical checkup first and talk with their doctor first, to make sure that your body is able to miss a meal or three or six or nine.

Times when to fast….try Good Friday. A great time to deny oneself and to spend the day reflecting on what Jesus has done for us. Try fasting on Sunday’s and attempt to focus on giving all to GOD during that day.

Hey Johnnie
Thanks for the promo…a very interesting article…personally I cannot handle the “GODCASTING” thing….I actually asked him not to use that phrase. But other than that I think he did a good job.

Kenny
Thanks for the quote! Have a great week all.

Just a side note: I would like some feedback as to what you would like me to blog about. I know that many people have questions or comments and I would be open to exploring them. Let me know via email. Also, I trust that people realize that I am unable to always interact and post daily, simply because of my personal time commitments with my job. When things slow down I can then jump on and interact. Just know that I am aware of what is posted and waiting to find the right time to interact….like this morning!
Be blessed all!