Why Do You Fast?
Some things are more important than religious practices, and we need to focus on what matters most
I plan to fast one day a week. While I’m not as consistent as I would like, I follow through more often than I miss. Fasting is a spiritual act of worship for me. It better connects me with God and sharpens my prayers. I (mostly) anticipate my fasts.
Fasting provides me with spiritual focus—providing I fast for the right reasons. As such, I must fight against fasting for lessor, secondary benefits: saving time in meal preparation and eating, increased productivity throughout the day, and a means to keep my weight in check. Those may be good, but they miss the main point of fasting.
Sometimes I fast with the right perspective, and other times I don’t do so well. It seems Zechariah has my struggle in mind when he cites God asking, “Was it really for me that you fasted?” Yes, we can fast for God or we can fast for ourselves. The first brings glory to God and the second, detracts from God. If we’re going to fast—or engage in any spiritual discipline, for that matter—we need to do so for the right reasons. If we fast, may we do so appropriately.If we’re going to fast we need to do so for the right reasons. Click To Tweet
Yet a few verses later Zechariah seems to offer a better alternative to fasting. Again quoting God, he says to “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.”
When done right fasting honors God. However acting with justice, mercy, and compassion honors God and benefits others. While the first is good, I suspect the second is better.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.