As we prepare to commence a fourteen day period of prayer, a few comments about fasting seem appropriate.
In fasting we choose to intentionally go without something for a period of time (usually something pleasurable but not necessarily sinful). It could be food (in a variety of forms) or some other activity (TV, music, etc). Jesus assumed that his disciples would fast (Matthew 6:16-18) as he himself did (Matthew 4:1-2).
Fasting teaches us a lot about ourselves. It quickly reveals how much we are dependent on the pleasure of eating. It also demonstrates how powerful our body is and especially our appetite! Fasting seeks to confirm our dependence on God by finding strength from him alone. After all, it is not food that gives us true life; it is God’s word to us (Matthew 4:4). Life is much more than food (Luke 12:33) and our belly is not our god as it is for others (Phil.3:19. Rom.16:18).
Fasting is one of the more important ways of practising the self-denial required of everyone who would follow Christ. Fasting teaches self-control and therefore trains us in restraint with regard to all our fundamental drives. We learn the value of ‘contentment’ (1 Timothy 6:6). Fasting is not an easy discipline but its practice yields great benefits in our lives, especially when accompanied by time in prayer and other spiritual disciplines.
As we move through this period of fourteen days of focused prayer, why not consider including some form of fasting.