With the season of Lent upon us, there surely has been thought and talk of what we are going to give up, or what we will be fasting from, for the 40 days. However, I would say there is more to be found in fasting and in these 40 days. In reflection upon last year, the first year I observed Lent, I was convicted that I didn’t realize the greatest thing I was receiving through the process, God Himself.
Last year I wanted to see God move and work in ways that I had felt that He wasn’t working in my own life. I had felt like I hadn’t heard God in a great while so I decided that giving up my headphones for Lent was the thing that was going to change that. The reason that I chose to do such was because I knew it would be hard for me. It was not necessarily because I wanted God to transform the way in which I listened to him, but likely more so that I wanted to put a Band-Aid on the uncomfortable and almost embarrassing wound of not hearing from Him. Even with that being the case, I still feel that God moved during that time. Not because I had given up my headphones, but because at the very core of that decision, God really worked on how much more of Him I want and showed me more of my need for Him.
As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.
– Psalm 42:1
Through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross we have access to the one true King. When we fast, we are seeking out the presence of God. When we fast, we are not just giving something up, we are gaining more time and intimacy in the greatest relationship we will ever know.
Through recognizing our absolute desperation for God, we can humbly approach prayer and fasting. In Matthew 6, Jesus teaches on the two subjects as well as on giving to the poor. He tells us to give in secret, to pray in secret, and to fast in secret. Jesus wants us to focus on doing it with God and for the glory of God rather than for our own glory. We are not giving up social media, a certain food, or headphones to have attention focused on us. We give, pray, and we fast to grow closer to God and have Him work through us so that He may be lifted up. Throughout Matthew 6, Jesus makes sure that our Father is the focus. He intimately begins the Lord’s Prayer by saying:
“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
– Matthew 6:9
We get to intimately cry out to God, calling him Father and glorifying his name. This is what I hope for in this season of Lent. That we would not be focused on what we are giving up, but instead on what we are gaining in the intimacy of our Lord. We are all desperate for God and fasting is a way to tangibly feel that.
So, for these next 40 days or so, rather than focusing on the giving up of some item or idea, lets focus on how God grow more abundantly in our life in our humble obedience to Him. Not seeking out our own gain, but instead seeking out the will and the things that our Abba Father wants to provide.
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.
– 1 Timothy 6:17
If we are seeking to overcome a stumbling block in our life, let us use this time to pray and fast as it is written in Isaiah 58 to “loosen the bonds of wickedness.” If we are seeking for God to intercede on our behalf let us follow the example of David in 2 Samuel 12:15-17 and cry out to God in our fast and prayers. Above all, let us seek and pray to God so that he may transform us.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
- Romans 12:1-2