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p1030567

Confession time. For most of my Christian life, I had very little understanding about the nature of fasting. I never bothered to investigate the topic in Scripture. I could blame my teachers for not cluing me in, but no; it’s on me. I am ashamed to admit for years—many years—I just accepted the traditional Evangelical understanding of this practice. I just swam along in the ill-informed stream like the rest of my peers. I am ashamed of my ignorance, ashamed that I did not take the time to find out the truth. And to help insure that I don’t become “high-minded, but fear,” let me hastily add that surely there is more to learn.

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2009-02-25_1137_3_OrphanSchoolStudents (2)

Embarrassing admission: I don’t get fasting–and almost never fast, unless you can call what we are eating here a kind of fasting! Almost no meat, ever! :–)  I haven’t really fasted much because it has always seemed like a kind of religious exercise that I didn’t understand, and one that, when I did it, didn’t seem to see any spiritual benefit from.  Anyway, we know that interesting chapter about fasting is in Isaiah.  And we know–these are all thoughts tenuously connected, and I hope I can connect them–that when we go through some kind of grief and loss in our lives, we lose our appetites–someone dies, a relationship that goes disastrously bad, a divorce–that kind of thing. I think I’m coming to the conclusion that fasting is the result of an inner work of God in our lives where we are so grieved by what we see and know about the world, that we lose our appetites.  The fact that we haven’t lost our appetites over these things speaks volumes about how little we care about these the condition of the world and those who have great need of assistance. So, to me, I’m thinking I should pray that I will be grieved about the condition of widows, orphans, the unsaved, the sick, that I actually begin to lose my appetite. When Jesus said, “This kind comes out only by prayer and fasting,” was He talking about a religious exercise or a heart that was tremendously moved by compassion, grieved, for people who were totally overwhelmed by the devil?

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