Why do I fast?
I fast on Fridays. I have for most of my adult life. I fast all year round except on Feast Days and the 50 days of Easter (a Feast Season). As I sit here writing this, it is a Friday and I am fasting. I decided to write this because I really want to eat something. Writing this will help me remember why I fast.
I fast because Jesus expects it of those who seek to live a spiritual life. In the Sermon on the Mount he says “When you fast…” not “if you fast.” Because it is an expectation of my Lord, I trust that he sees a spiritual reason/benefit for it. I trust that he knows better than I do how to mature in my faith and grow in Christian discipleship.
I fast because the Early Church did. Now, I understand they fasted two days a week – Wednesday and Friday. Maybe because Judas makes his plan to betray Jesus on Wednesday (and I do not want to follow his way), and on Friday because that is the day our Lord died for the world, all creation, and us. In some years I will fast on Wednesdays and Fridays – but that is during the 40 days of Lent.
I fast because I am called to a rule of self-denial. Saying no to myself and yes to God is a way of surrendering my life to the God in whom I seek to abide. Jesus also taught us that self-denial is a spiritual discipline that allows us to grow and mature. There are many ways to live out self-denial. For me, fasting is one of them.
I fast to remind myself that I don’t, nor does anyone else, live by bread alone. I seek to live by the Word of God – Jesus. When I am feeling hunger, I remind myself that there is a spiritual hunger in me that is greater than the physical hunger I feel. I am sustained by Word and Sacrament.
I fast because I am to remember that I am but dust – I am mortal and that life eternal is not mine by right but mine by gift. To feel hunger reminds me that I am not God.
I continue to fast because I have found it good for my soul. I experience my need for God through fasting that I would not in any other fashion.
I write this today because I am hungry and I want to eat. I write this to remind myself that fasting is a gift I offer to God. Lord, take my physical hunger and turn it into spiritual hunger – for you.