Growing up in the Midwest I never knew much about Ash Wednesday. I have my theories as to why. However, once I moved to New England that changed. One day a year… I would notice people with black crosses on their foreheads. The host of one of my favorite shows on ESPN even had one on his forehead.
Ash Wednesday is what I call “D Day for Catholics”. The “D” standing for decision. It’s the day they decide what they will fast from (give up) for the 46 days leading up to Easter (40 days not counting Sundays).
In honor of Ash Wednesday I thought that I would write a post about fasting. Fasting is a spiritual discipline that I really enjoy when I do it. It’s challenging. But most of all it brings me closer to God when I do it. Here is what Jesus said about fasting in Matthew 6:16-18…
16 “Whenever you fast, don’t be sad-faced like the hypocrites. For they make their faces unattractive so their fasting is obvious to people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head, and wash your face, 18 so that you don’t show your fasting to people but to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Two things I want to highlight: don’t make it obvious….. and you will be rewarded.
I read this book once. It was called Starving Jesus. I enjoyed it. In it one of the authors, J.R. Mahon talks about fasting (from food) for 40 days. He was crazy. The most that I have ever fasted to this point of my life is 5 days. 5 days is a challenge but it is SO rewarding. It’s not the amount of time that is the reward. It is the dependence on Jehovah-jireh (my provider) that is the blessing. I believe that at some point in the life of every believer they need to experience what I call a “long-term fast”. A long term fast could be a 24 hour period… it could be more than one day…. but to be “long-term” it should be more than one meal. Long-term requires reliance. I know it may require reliance for someone to fast one meal… I understand that. So start there. But when you do… do so quietly because your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Have you ever fasted?
How has God used fasting in your life?