Why Do We Fast?
Yesterday was day five of my lent fast. I have been fasting from cheese, which means I am basically giving up all the foods I actually eat and enjoy. And I will be honest, the fast took a pretty bad turn for the worst yesterday. It has been a little hard at our house the past few days. Our one year old has been sick so my past few nights have looked like this:
10:00pm: Go to bed
1:00am-4:00am- Selah awake coughing and crying on and off
6:00am- Both kids are up
Thankfully Tim usually gets up with the kids at 6 and lets me sleep until around 7. If you have kids, you know that when they are sick they are extra clingy and needy; they cry more all day long and you have slept much less. This was all happening this week, and it just started to take its toll.
So, yesterday afternoon I made my three year old some macaroni for lunch, because she was begging for macaroni. It was the only thing she wanted. So, I made her some and gave it to her, and of course she took one bite because she is a three year old.
Instead of dumping out the full pot of macaroni, I stood there and ate almost all of the macaroni, strait from the pot. It was not my finest hours.
After that I realized maybe I needed an intervention if I was going to make it another 35 days.
I went back to why we fast. And I found two stories in the Bible that really highlight why we fast. Both stories show two different reasons. I will talk about one today.
The most well known story we read in the Bible of fasting is when Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights which is found in Matthew 4:1-11.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread. ” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
When I look at the first line, I don’t know what to think about why he started his fast.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1
Did he fast to prepare to be tempted?
Was he expecting Satan, so he wanted to be fully reliant on God when he was tempted by his greatest enemy?
If I knew my greatest enemy was going to come in 40 days, I am pretty sure I would be googling strategies on how to keep that enemy away, how to defeat it, how to be stronger and smarter than it.
But this isn't what Jesus does.
Jesus spent his 40 days becoming as weak and hungry and thirty as possible. He was becoming weaker so God could become greater. This was his plan. And it worked. He was able to defeat his enemy after not eating or drinking for 40 days by relying on God’s strength alone.
This passage has a LOT of different things we can learn from it, but I think one thing he is showing us here is that when our enemies are coming or our enemies are near, he wants to fast and pray so that we can gain strength from God alone.
Whenever my kids are sick, that is when they need me the most. That is when they want me the most. When we are at our weakest, we give God more opportunities to be needed. More time to hold us. More time to really take care of us.
What are your enemies? Have you ever fasted when you felt like you needed God's help with something?