I had to fast for 12 hours yesterday before getting a blood test. I really missed my morning coffee. Jesus said you are not to tell anyone when you are fasting. But I don’t think that applies to this situation!
Then yesterday morning I received an email from our new pastor friend Benard in rural Africa who says “we sometimes go fasting for 2 days to spare the food for the orphans.” (He and his wife have taken 40 orphaned children into their home.) Suddenly my 12-hour fast (most of which was while I slept) and the deprivation of my morning coffee seemed pretty pathetic.
I’ll be honest with you, fasting is not part of my spiritual regimen. Have I become part of an affluent American Christianity that views fasting with ambivalence? As I reflect on this today, I am also painfully aware that our reasons for fasting (unlike my Kenyan brother who is fasting in order to serve others) are relatively self-serving. No, I am not saying it is wrong to fast in order to quiet your spirit to listen to God, or to gain wisdom for making decisions. But these things remind me of the words of Isaiah: “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen… to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter, when you see the naked, to clothe him… (Is. 58:6-7 NIV). I think our Kenyan brother Benard has the right idea.