Draw Near Disciplines - Fasting

Draw Near Disciplines - Fasting

July 24, 2018

Why learn and practice spiritual disciplines?

In my own life, I’ve found that when I break out of my normal routine and experience something new, it seems that my mind is more in tune with God and it is easier for me to take important steps towards God. One of the most effective (and fun) ways of doing this is by learning a specific technique or skill, and focusing on practicing it. I’ve put together some of my favorites that will be debuted in additional blog posts, and I encourage you to try them out (they work great in conjunction with the Near Journal).

These disciplines are all rooted in the bible and also Christian tradition throughout the centuries. The disciplines range from practicing thankfulness to the ancient spiritual practice of Lectio Divina.

Each post will present you with some historical context, related scripture, and finish with some challenges that you can practice.

The purpose of these disciplines are to help you experience new ways of worshiping God, and present you with actionable steps that can be taken very easily. You can read through the discipline before you do your journaling for the day, they aren’t very time consuming. I encourage you to try each of them, and if you like it spend some time researching it a bit more on Google.

Why Fasting & How To Fast?

Fasting seems like such a complicated subject, and it can be if you really dig into it. But at the foundation, fasting is just denying something in order to place your attention on God, restrain your earthly desires, or make amends for sin against God.

Fasting is a well documented biblical practice that is surrounded by confusion and questions, but what is clear is that there is a strong biblical foundation. Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert. Moses fasted for 40 days on the mountain. Daniel fasted. King David fasted. And many other biblical figures also fasted.

In fact, Jesus even said, “when you fast”, it was an assumption that his followers would fast.

Christian tradition also has strong roots in fasting, from ancient times to the present day - St. Augustine, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Thomas Aquinas, John Wesley, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Martin Luther King Jr., Beth Moore, Billy Graham, John Piper; all of these people fast and speak highly of its benefits.

“Fasting purifies the soul. It lifts up the mind, and it brings the body into subjection to the spirit.” -St. Augustine

Traditionally, fasting is the denial of food or water. However, fasting is not limited to those things. Many people do periodic fasts from television, cell phones, or other forms of entertainment in order to focus more attention toward God. The goal is let the discomfort of giving something up be a reminder to draw deeper into prayer or thinking about God. Each pang of hunger is a reminder to seek God, each instinctual reach for your phone is a reminder to pray.

If you’ve never fasted before, regardless of whether you are fasting from food, entertainment, or something else it is recommended to start small. Set your phone aside for one hour, or intentionally skip dinner. If you choose to fast from food, please consult your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to fast.

Here are some fasting challenges to get you going: give one of them a try this week.

  • Don’t drink anything except for water for a few days. Cut out all tea, soda, and… gasp… coffee.
  • Turn your phone off (setting it on silent doesn’t count) for a whole evening. Put it away in a drawer somewhere, don’t even leave it in your pocket. Leave it off until you go to bed.
  • Skip lunch or dinner one day. Spend the 15-30 minutes you would use eating to pray and think about God. If you really want to do something neat, take the money you would have spent on lunch and donate it to a worthy cause.
  • Don’t read, watch, or listen to any news, music, or information for a week. No podcasts, no YouTube, no Spotify, no Pandora, no Google News, no sports, no nothing! It is strange to cut ourselves off from the constant flow of information, but you’ll realize that the world keeps spinning. Spend that time in prayer, maybe even pray for people in other countries who have no access to news or the internet.

If you've got a Near Journal, use the space provided in the pages at the back of the journal to record your thoughts and experiences with fasting.

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