As anyone who has taken any time to study the human body and nutrition knows, or, let’s be honest, as we all know – when there’s garbage in our bodies, it affects us. If I eat Doritos, Honey Buns, and pizza and then wash it down with a delicious cold beer, it’s gonna be nice for a hot second. Then it’s gonna get ugly. My body will be sluggish. My stomach will probably hurt. My mental function will be affected, less sharp. And I might feel a little depressed – sugar and alcohol will do that. Can I get an amen?
Let’s be real: we’ve all done it. We’ve put things into our bodies, our minds and our souls that just don’t bring us life. They make us sluggish, unhealthy and even depressed. They can, if left unchecked, kill us.
This week we’re focusing on Spiritual Disciplines and letting the classic Richard Foster book Celebration of Discipline be our guide. Today let’s take a minute to think about the inward disciplines. Foster sorts them as the following four:
We encourage you to go deeper with all four. These inward disciplines help shape our souls each day and week in ways that open us up to God. As we pointed out from Foster yesterday, “by themselves the Spiritual Disciplines can do nothing; they can only get us to the place where something can be done. They are God’s means of grace.” Today, let’s go just a bit deeper on one that may be less familiar to many: fasting.
Fasting is an ancient practice – both religious and not – that is so simple and beautiful. My friend and pastor Mike Patz has a quote about fasting that I absolutely love. He says, “fasting is not about twisting God’s arm to get what we want but about untwisting our souls so we can hear what God wants for us.” And that is always good. He desires our peace, joy and flourishing. It’s his way.
And so, as we wrestle with new routines and rhythms in this season of Coronavirus – and in this Holy Week as we meditate on all that Jesus gave up so that we could have life – perhaps we should consider a fast. Maybe a day, maybe even a whole week. Maybe one meal a day, or maybe a fast from things we know aren’t healthy. We do it not only for simple health benefits or outward reasons. We do it to seek new freedom, joy and wholeness – from the one and only Source. To fill up on good things as we untwist our souls.
Take a moment right now to think and pray. Then jot down something that comes to mind – that might just be the Holy Spirit prompting you. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
And as we do, we pray…
Lord, use this fast to purify us. Cleanse our bodies and our souls of everything that is not of you, that we may be fully devoted to your purposes for our lives. Purge every unclean thing from our bodies, minds and spirits. Renew our connection with you. Remind us that we do not live on bread alone, but on your very words. Let us feast on your words and your promises, even as we fast from physical food. Fill us afresh, Holy Spirit of God, that the fruits of our lives may be your fruits – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. And these not only for our good, but for the good of those around us. We are desperate for you, O God. Restore to us the joy of your salvation. Amen.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Joel & Jeff
- Joel Searby
- Jeff Bethke