Fasting: Up Close

As I wrote in The Busy Mom’s Guide to Spiritual Survival, “fasting is not a lone ranger discipline; it is intimately connected with other spiritual practices. In the Bible, fasting is nearly always accompanied with prayer. Fasting is often an immediate response of those who through self-examination have been led to mourning and repentance over sin. Fasting is also an extension of the discipline of simplicity; through denying ourselves the ability to satisfy an appetite (whether it be for food, things, or an activity), we’re able to narrow our focus on our soul’s true hunger for intimacy with God.”  

Two women in Scripture provide examples of the way fasting partners with other disciplines. Here’s more from The Busy Mom’s Guide to Spiritual Survival:

In the Old Testament we encounter Esther; she was young, beautiful, and in the middle of a life-threatening crisis. Esther had been chosen to marry a pagan king who had recently gotten rid of his previous wife. When Esther was informed of an edict that would effectively result in the genocide of her people, she devoted three days to fasting and prayer and was joined by all the Jews in her city. Through this intense time of focusing her energy, hunger, and entire being on God, Esther found the strength and courage to do what God was calling her to do: risk her life in order to protect her people.

Early in the New Testament, we encounter another awesome portrait of fasting in Anna. A widow, at least eighty-four years old, Anna lived in the temple and spent her time “worshipping with fasting and prayer night and day” (Luke 2:37, ESV). Her fasting and prayer were acts of her utter devotion to God, and as a result of her connection to God she was able to clearly sense God’s leading and hear his voice. Prompted by God’s Spirit, Anna recognized the infant Jesus as the promised Messiah! She was one of the very first witnesses of the gospel, “speak[ing] of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38, ESV).

How can you, like Esther, practice fasting as a way to deepen your prayer experience? Or how can you, like Anna, offer a fast to God as a sacrifice of worship? How do their examples inspire you?

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