Spiritual Formation

How Fasting Feeds the Soul

October 29, 2013


Moses ascended Mount Sinai to experience the presence of God.  For forty days and forty nights he deprived himself from the basic necessities of this world in order to find the nourishment and nutrition he so desperately needed from another world.  In short, that is the essence of fasting- starving our flesh, while God feeds our faith.

We hear very little of the subject these days; and that’s not really a shock.  We are so enamored with self-promotion, self-fulfillment, and self-advancement that we give very little thought to self-denial.  We have traded the cross-centered life for the consumer-centered cross.  The thought of giving up anything that feeds the flesh is an absurdity to this generation.  We go to bed physically full but constantly rise spiritually hungry.  The lacking dividends of our spiritual investment are a mere reflection of our failed sacrifice.  As Henry David Thoreau said, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

Thoreau hits on a very pertinent truth when it comes to fasting- exchange.  What are we willing to exchange in order to pursue the power of God?  Moses gave up food and water for an extended period of time but came down off the mountain a changed man.  He was willing to give up so that he could go up.  He descended with the worship of God in his heart, the Word of God in his hands, and the witness of God on his head.  Moses was changed…to the point that his face glistened with the glory of God.

That’s what happens when we pray and fast- we change.  As Philip Yancey contends, “Prayer is the act of seeing reality from God’s point of view.”  I might add that prayer also allows us to see ourselves, and the egotism that fills our life, from God’s point of view.  But that spiritual reality will never take place until we rid ourselves of the excessive weight of ourselves.  Moses went up to the mountain so that God could rid Moses of Moses.   Jesus declared, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.  Moses didn’t eat bread or drink for forty days atop Mount Sinai- but it is certain, he was fed.



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