WHAT IS FASTING? Fasting and spiritual purposes cannot be separated because they are intricately intertwined. Fasting is a gift that God has given to the church in order to help us persevere in prayer. Fasting draws us closer to God and gives power to our prayers.
People have been fasting since the ancient days of the Bible. The Bible records numerous accounts where people, cities, and nations have turned to God by fasting and praying. Some people fast for faith and spiritual reasons. here are several specific reasons that the Bible tells us to fast.
- To be Christ-like. (Matthew 4:1-17; Luke 4:1-13).
- To obtain spiritual purity. (Isaiah 58:5-7).
- To strengthen prayer.(Matthew 17:21; Mark 9:17-29;
Acts 10:30; 1 Corinthians 7:5).
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught a lesson about how to fast and how not to fast. 16 ‘And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Matthew 6: Fasting should make us humble instead of proud. In the end it is not our works, but our hearts that matter to God. God promises to reward openly those who fast and pray in secret. (Winfield Bevins)
Rector’s Message: You can tell that it is Spring Time. You can see that beautiful flowers are staring to blossom. You can see that some of trees are starting to bloom and of course it won’t be long before you can smell the mulch/fertilizer that people will use in their gardens, yards and in their flowerbeds.
The fig tree in our story is one that should be bearing fruit. The owner took the time to plant it, care for it and he expected to be able to come up to it at the right time of the year and harvest figs from it. He wasn’t into ornamental fig trees. He wanted a fig tree that would do its job. He wanted a fig tree that would do what fig trees are supposed to do.
The gardener, likely a skilled gardener, has the prudence to understand that fruit does not grow immediately. Growing figs takes time, bearing fruit requires patience – and appropriate nourishment. While it may be tempting to chop down the parts of ourselves that seem like they are taking forever to heal or grow up, maybe we need to ask what nourishment we need, instead. What compost is necessary to add to our roots? Time with friends? Scripture? A Sabbath rest? In addition to the repentance that is required of us, what else do our trees need? We may see the unhealthy nature of our soil, but how do we increase its wellbeing?
From what must you turn and repent? What about your church community? What does healthy soil mean to you? What do you need in your life to enrich it?