On the Discipline of Fasting

On the discipline of fasting…
Fasting not only serves to bring the flesh into submission to the spirit, but it also serves to help kindle a feeling of thanksgiving in the heart. The homeless refugee is not said to be fasting though he suffers and wastes away for lack of sustenance. Rather, fasting serves as the reminder of the abundance that we have received from the Lord. “Every good and perfect gift comes from above.” (James 1:17). When we willing deprive ourselves of those gifts, it helps us to remember that they are gifts and from whom they are given. When we refuse to deprive ourselves of them, we have given power to the appetites of the flesh to control us. How often, in our abundance, do we take that very abundance for granted?

I’ve heard children in a store screaming about a particular toy they want. When finally the patent surrenders and agrees to buy that toy, the child oftentimes has chosen something else that they “have to have” before the first purchase is even completed. There is no thankfulness in the pleasure of the first gift because the desires of the flesh, when fed in abundance, can never be sated. So too is it with our fasting. We must bring the flesh into submission to the spirit else it’s desires will be an all consuming flame. As John the Baptist said, “I must decrease that He may increase.” Only through bringing the flesh into submission can we truly free ourselves from our bondage to the desires of the flesh.

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