Tuesday, September 6, 2011


“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning” (Joel 2:12)

Fasting is mentioned over twenty times in Scripture in both the Old and New Testament. It is often mentioned in conjunction with prayer and like prayer, one reason for fasting is intercession for others including a nation. Another reason for fasting is as part of personal repentance. The Psalmist said, “I humbled my soul with fasting” (35:13). Fasting seems to increase the efficacy of prayer. Jesus stated in Matthew, “This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (17:21). Fasting was noted twice in Acts before important decisions were made. Both Moses and our Lord fasted for forty days and nights.

The church has made a distinction between fasting and abstinence with fasting having to do with the quantity of food and abstinence having to do with the quality of the food. Thus Jesus could say, “My meat is to do the will of the one who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:34). Fasting as abstinence is at the heart of fasting as an act.

Although I have fasted for as much as three days over the years, it has not been a regular practice for me. I have fasted on Ember days and at times during the season of Lent.  Today I am fasting prior to a medical procedure that requires me to go without food for twenty four hours. It is disappointing for me that my mind so often returns to food and the day has hardly begun. It is an empty hollow feeling. The next meal is far away in time and there is uneasiness about it.

I think it signals to me once again that often I use food for the wrong reasons. Eating chocolate until the mood passes is not the proper use of food. It is eating because I’m bored, Eating because it goes with the companionship or the ball game.

I think this is also born out in AA with what is called a distinction between being dry and being sober. Being dry is a state of not drinking but being sober is thinking like someone who is in recovery and not behaving like a drunk even though one has not been drinking. The latter is called a  dry drunk.

Lord, help me use food as fuel, as a means to restore my body. Help me to keep those foods out of my house that I have no control over. Help me to be abstinent. Amen

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6).

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