WHY I HATE FASTING

If your church is like ours, there is a fast in your immediate future. After all, that’s a good way to start the new year. It truly is, but if you are like me, you probably hating fasting! How in the world does starving the body have any effect on our prayers?  At least that used to be my argument against it…

I remember back in the eighties, trying to do a forty-day fast. I think I lasted about a week, before deciding that I had received all God really wanted to speak to me! Truth be known, the growls coming from my stomach were probably louder than the voice of the Holy Spirit. As you can tell, I’m not very good at fasting.

In most Biblical examples, fasting and prayer go hand in hand. I can understand that… Preparing a meal back then was a major ordeal. It took a lot of time and effort to kill the fatted calf, prepare ingredients for baking some bread, and build a fire to cook everything. There were no electric ovens or microwaves in those days; preparing a meal was time consuming. So, practically speaking, fasting made sense when it came to prayer. Just think how much time you would save by eliminating one meal a day! Wind the clock forward to this day and age, and we just grab something at a fast-food restaurant or throw something in the microwave. Fasting does not necessarily change the use of our time like it did in Bible times.  

In the eighties, our church in Columbus, Ohio had a monthly time of fasting and prayer. The first Friday of the month, we had a 24-hour church wide fast. From 8am Friday to 8am Saturday, pretty much everyone participated. Friday night was an awesome time of prayer and worship. Then, the die-hards would stay up all night. I know for a fact that some folks would do a partial fast by skipping lunch and keep working. (I know that to be true because I was guilty of that from time to time.) We would just skip the meal, check the fasting box, and go on with life. The problem was that we would not just skip the meal, we would skip praying as well. Somehow, I guess we thought fasting filled in for our praying. I don’t think that’s what God has in mind when it comes to fasting and prayer…

Recently, I was writing an article and mentioned something in it about fasting. Just then, the Lord whispered something in my ear. He said, “Fasting is putting skin in the game.” I knew right way what He meant: Fasting involves giving up some of my flesh. The act itself would cost me something.

We all love to eat; it is one of the great pleasures in life. Fasting, on the other hand, takes away the pleasure of eating, at least for a time. It is the act of denying ourselves – in exchange for something of greater value. That’s why fasting and prayer go hand in hand…

It is easy to say we will pray about something. People say that all the time. “I’ll pray for you.” That can amount to a quick prayer while driving to work or during some other activity. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that kind of prayer is incorrect or ineffective. However, the moment we throw fasting into the mix, our prayers take on a whole new dimension! We are investing more than a few minutes of time; we are putting skin in the game.

Fasting and prayer are each acts of sacrifice – and there is power in the mix! When we fast and pray, our prayers become of greater importance, greater value, because we are fully invested in the effort. Surely, fasting and prayer are costly: They both demand our time and attention – interfere with our life, our schedules, and our personal time. However, combining the two makes both more meaningful and effective. We can certainly pray without fasting, but I’m not sure if we can, or should, fast without praying. At least, that’s not the kind of fasting the Bible encourages us to do…

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