As the New Year has dawned, our thoughts in January may have turned towards a month of prayer and fasting for direction in the coming year.
Often, fasting is looked upon as giving something “up” or abstaining ‘from” in order to draw near to God.
What if a perspective of looking at fasting was one of feasting instead on the banquet of all that is God, satisfying the deeper longings of the soul in suspension of others?
What if instead it was seen as a time of embracing deepening friendship found in unbroken communion with the Father, a “renewal fast” in light of the paschal mystery?
Would it be filled with:
- Emptying more of our self-will (tending to ego or choosing ways of an unexamined life)?
- More frequent glances in the mirror of humility?
- Intentional time of becoming more aware of our thoughts and motives to discern if there be any offensive way?
- Choosing intentional loving responses instead of what may be default as a pattern?
Led by the Spirit into the desert to fast, Jesus refused all temptation. He did not choose his own self-sufficiency, but instead “fasted” even the power available to him in the face and lure of temptation. It was his desire to be in union with his Father through communion, not merely his own strength, that reflected a posture of humility of heart in the wake of temptations of the pride or self-sufficiency second to God. Was Jesus’ unbroken communion due to a perpetual fasting of his own self-will (one that would tend to ego)? Could he have not chosen either being fully God-Man?
Are not intentional limits of fasting then life-giving and restorative; boundaries of freedom to keep unbroken friendship and intimacy with the Father?
His dishes of delight provide sustenance to the soul beyond the daily portions, it’s going beyond only supplication and intercession into a quieting and listening in the interior of the soul, meeting him there and finding the attachments we often cling will not fit in that delightful and beautiful inner room that radiate with friendship through intimacy.
Fasting can be an intentional perspective of choosing to see through eyes of gratitude, even when the emotions would desire another main course and finding the choicest morsels and gifts of his love to be unwrapped and savored instead of upon the table.
As we walk into the first steps of this New Year, may we respond to his invitations. In anticipation of a new book arriving next week, 40 Days of Decrease: A Different Kind of Hunger. A Different Kind of Fast by Alicia Britt Chole, a gifted writer and friend encountered while we were serving in campus ministry twenty-five years ago, I would like to share this title with you for consideration for reflections for the 40 days leading to Lent and invite you to see if this may resonate in your season of becoming aware of his invitations.
In whichever way we respond to his invitation to deeper friendship, to know and be known in the new year, may the greater morsels than those that can be found in beautiful bowls or platters atop the table feed our souls. It’s in drawing close to God that self-awareness becomes a gift, an offering, and is only the beginning to open access to the graces of his love awaiting to be revealed in that interior room of the soul.
“If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship,
it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes
or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion.
There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach,
more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body.
Look at the birds, free and unfettered,
not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God.
And you count far more to him than birds”.
– Matthew 6:25-26 MSG
May we seek to follow Jesus’ example in this new year with humility as a comfortable posture of the heart,