Feasting in God’s Presence: When God is Enough
“Some have exalted religious fasting beyond all Scripture and reason; and others have utterly ignored it.”[i]
John Wesley hits the head on the nail, pointing out the imbalance in which we still to this day tend to treat the invitation to Fasting. In a culture where God’s Love has been caught up in legalism and lack of grace, people will not stand in line to learn about the Discipline of Fasting. Our culture’s obsession with food and excess in every area of life crowds God out, while we consider ourselves “materially blessed”. The Food Network is entertainment. Our appetites increase and our bodies suffer. We devour immediate wants over basic needs in accelerating pace, failing to realize that our lifestyles are being hi-jacked by and conformed to the standards of this world.
In recent decades writings on Fasting have increased, seeking to reiterate and revive the often forgotten and ignored Discipline of Fasting. While all Spiritual Disciplines are calling us to remove obstacles standing in the way of our desire to love God and others well, the Discipline of Fasting from a Biblical perspective seeks to be intentional about “abstaining from food for spiritual purposes”[ii]. Jesus commenced his earthly ministry with 40 days of Fasting setting the purposeful example of this powerful Discipline in the context of defeating Evil. Although a regular practice of the Discipline can have many positive impacts on the spiritual life, the aim is to focus on God by going without food or other things in favor of establishing a deeper connection with God.
Foster’s writings[iii]convinced me, over two decades ago, that God is seeking to order our lives. Biblical Fasting serves to remove obstacles standing in the way of intentional relationship with God. Still true, the call to awareness and practices of Fasting and Prayer has deepened for me, especially in intercessory ministry. I have watched others, seeking to learn from their example and responded to the call to pray and fast. Fasting does not come easily for most, I believe, but helps us in surrendering to God, acknowledging the Spirit’s call upon our lives, joining with a band of believers claiming to truly follow the example and teachings realized through Jesus’ own lifestyle[iv].
Fasting as Feasting is not a direct command[v], but loving invitation. While the human mindset protests, God is always enough. We might perceive the gentle call to shift our focus, becoming completely led by the hand of Jesus. Intentional and ongoing practice may lead into deeper dimensions of restful realities, where our humble spiritual warfare in the following of Biblical battles meets the freedom to put on all the armor of God and then just “Be Still…”[vi]. As we learn to trust God, Fasting may free us to “name” and “slay” the “dragons” of selfishness[vii], wanting our own way and running ahead of God. Instead peace, rest and complete trust is on offer, relying on a Mighty God of Grace who fights every battle and always wins.
Lovers do not need encouragement to seek each other out but will find ways to be in the presence of the other. Is God’s Love calling us into a Fasting adventure of Feasting? Will Love for God and Others be worth the price of defeating our “dragons” and draw near to the God who lovingly calls us?
written by Major A. A. Margareta Ivarsson, Western Pennsylvania, USA East
Foster, N. (2014). The Making of an Ordinary Saint.Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
Foster, R. J. (1989). Celebration of Discipline.London: Hodder & Stoughton.
MacDonald, G. (1984, 1996). Ordering Your Private World.Godalming, Surrey: Highland Books.
Wallis, A. (1968). God’s Chosen Fast.Fort Washington, PA: CLC Publications.
Wesley, J. (1938). The Journal of Reverned John Wesley.London: Epworth Press.
[i]Wesley, 1938 p. 147
[ii]Foster, 1988 p. 48
[iv]Mt. 6:16-18; Lk. 4:1-13;
[v]However, Jesus assumed that we would fast. Mt. 6:16
[vi]Eph. 6:10-18; Ex. 14:14; 2 Chron. 20:3; Esther 4:16