Hunger for More
“And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.” Luke 4:1,2
As we enter the gospel narrative in Luke chapter 4, we find Jesus led by the Spirit into the wilderness in solitude for focused time with the Father. During this time, He fasted from food and was eventually tempted by the devil. Immediately following, Jesus entered Galilee and called His first disciples, officially beginning His ministry.
Jesus is our example of the ultimate man; the only human to fulfill the law completely and please God through His perfect righteousness. Although He was fully God and fully man, He practiced the spiritual disciplines of baptism, prayer, and fasting. If Jesus, the Son of God, chose to fast before beginning His ministry, how much more should we, his created, pursue this spiritual practice?
Baptism, prayer, and fasting are given by God to His children as opportunities to experience and know Him more. Baptism is a one-time, corporate expression of faith, whereas prayer and fasting are continuous disciplines that can be practiced throughout a believer’s life. These disciplines are not designed to merit favor with God; Jesus already accomplished that perfectly on our behalf. As the redeemed, we are justified by faith alone through grace alone. Instead, these disciplines aid in pulling our gaze away from our temporal, earthly life with it’s petty worries and instead fix our eyes on the dynamic kingdom of Christ. His work in the spiritual world we inhabit is easily missed when we numb ourselves with the daily routine of self-absorbed consumerism.
By fasting from physical nourishment, we are tuned in to our need for spiritual nourishment. Although abstaining from food is not the only way to fast, it is the traditional method mentioned throughout the old and new testaments. Fasting from food allows us to feast on God. Take a moment to think about how much of your life is dedicated to the planning, prepping, consuming, and cleaning within each meal?
As a wife and mama of three, this task is very much on the forefront of my mind. Here’s a quick breakdown of my (average) week:
• Meal planning for the week: 1 hour
• Grocery shopping/unloading: 2 hours
• Daily meal prep: 2 hours/14 hours weekly
• Eating: 1 hour daily/7 hours weekly
• Meal cleanup: 1 hour daily/7 hours weekly
Total= 31 hours
31 hours of time dedicated (give or take a bit) to consuming food every week! That’s a part-time job. No wonder the fast food industry is booming. Not to mention, the society in which we live that is constantly trying to short-cut the time needed to feed ourselves. We have pre-butchered meat, fresh fruits, and veggies year-round. We have grocery stores on every corner, and even personal shoppers or online shopping available for you to simply pick up your food without even stepping foot inside a grocery store. We have meal delivery companies, and canned goods that last for years. We have microwaves and freezers and dishwashers. We enjoy drive-throughs and pizza delivery and superfood granola bars. We are a culture obsessed and consumed with eating.
If the point of fasting is to truly feast on the boundless satisfaction of the triune Godhead, what would it look like to substitute the momentary hunger pains of a missed meal for time focused instead on seeking the heart of God?
I am new to the idea of fasting regularly. I’ve studied it in seasons and have practiced it sporadically; unsure at times if I was pursuing it correctly or biblically. As we look at Jesus’ life and ministry in scripture, here are some important things to consider:
Seek the Lord first.
Jesus is the Author and Perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)
He alone knows our desires and genuine heart motives as we seek to obey Him out of the overflow of love shown to us through the gospel. Ask His Spirit to lead you. Study the Word. Seek trusted counsel. Enter into this discipline with the knowledge that He is at work in your life!
If you are physically unable to fast from food for any amount of time (ie: pregnant, nursing, health condition), seek other ways to fast. You can fast from a particular food group; take a break from social media or entertainment; fast from something routine that will create the extra time and space for prayer.
Check your motives.
Our hearts are deceitful. Beware of our innate desire for glory and recognition. Don’t make a big deal of fasting in front of others or post about it on social media. It’s too tempting to seek other’s approval above the Father’s. Don’t fast for weight loss. Fasting for health is one way to lose weight, and for some is very effective. But, be careful that your spiritual fast is not driven by obtaining earthly recognition. Remember, the point is to seek the heart of God.
The Bible is very clear about who our enemy is:
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
Satan’s aim is to steal, kill, and destroy whatever possible in the life of a believer. Yet, we are not to fear. Jesus conquered Satan, sin, and death through His own death and resurrection. He also gave us his Spirit and the weapons to wage war on our enemy. Be on guard and arm yourself with the sword of the Spirit as you enter into such an effective spiritual discipline.
What an opportunity we have as the Body of Christ to engage in communion with the Lord and each other through prayer and fasting! As we continue to seek the Lord in this season of our church, would you consider stepping into the spiritual battle, armor engaged, and heart ready to indulge in the abundantly satisfying feast of communion with Christ?
Resources on fasting:
Hunger for God, John Piper
Practicing the Power, Sam Storms