Spiritual Disciplines - part 3 Print
Written by Michael Fones   
Monday, 15 January 2007 08:14

I have to admit I hate to fast.

I blame my childhood hypoactive thyroid, which caused my weight to balloon and led my pediatrician to put me on a diet.
As a third-grader I thought it was a rather generous allotment of calories – 500 for just one day – until I realized four glasses of milk would take care of my daily caloric needs!

But I see a real value and need for it in my life today.
Contemporary society is filled with advertising: on buses, in newspapers, magazines, movies, TV, radio.
And it's all about generating desire in us.
The power of advertising is seen all around us.
New homes are more than twice as large as our parents' or grandparents' homes were – and they likely had more children!
There's a growing epidemic of obesity not only in our country, but now in China, too, which has begun to take on more of the trappings of capitalism (including advertising).
Some people literally killed to get the new Playstation that was released this fall.

The spiritual discipline of fasting retrains us away from dependence upon the satisfaction of our desires and makes the Kingdom of God a vital factor in our daily life.
Fasting is an application of the cross, which, in simplest terms, means not doing or getting what I want. If undertaken in the proper spirit, which is the desire to be more open to what God wants, it can create a space within me that actually hungers to do that will, instead of my own.

Our need for fasting can be seen in the amount of anger in our life.
Anger is often a response to the frustration of our will, sometimes simply in the frustration of our expectations.
It doesn't make much difference to a broken soul if what is willed is trivial, as the phenomenon of road rage demonstrates.

Fasting frees us from having to have what we want.
We can learn to be calm and serene even when we are deprived.
The Christian experience of fasting has shown that this calm in the face of deprivation will extend to beyond food to other areas of our life.
Like TV, sex, the need to control, to shop, to buy, to surf the net, (shudder) to blog…

Fasting can loosen the ties I have to doing my will and open me to the possibility of doing God's will.
Perhaps the ability of Jesus to fast allowed him to say, "Doing the will of him who sent me and bringing his work to completion is my food." (John 4:34)