Fasting has been narrowed in recent years to being about the food and beverage consumption: no lunch or no sugar or no alcohol or no carbs (oops, that’s a diet option). And that’s the problem, we live in a dieting world where the giving up of one element or another is this short term option that will give us some relatively immediate results. But I am pretty sure that fasting for God is a different mindset. It’s not even intended that this “giving up” be over the long haul. Not really.
Just because Jesus fasted for forty days doesn’t mean we need to fast from food and drink for the same amount of time. Besides, unless we have the the other disciplines going hand in hand with the fasting, it will be a futile effort. Fasting, in and of itself, is not the point.
It’s the change-up. It’s doing life differently. It’s making room for something else. It’s intentionally making a sacrifice in order to intentionally choose time and energy for God.
I remember trying to explain this process to my kids when they were younger and it never really quite took hold. Generally, they concentrated on those food items they could tolerate being without: ice cream, soda, desserts, pizza (well, no, I don’t think they ever did give up eating pizza for Lent or any other time).
This year, I am tossing in a few sacrificial lambs like sodas and lattes and even Words with Friends, but my sense of them is different. These acts feel inconsequential in the face of what I want this time to be about: a centering inside time, a time to know prayer in a deeper way, an unearthing of my soul from the tangles of my busy life (this is my yoke referenced in Isaiah). Can I slow down enough to do it? Can I open the clock for meditation and silence?
When Jesus met the woman at the well, his disciples were out getting carry out. When they got back, they offered him his share but he didn’t need it. He was full from the discourse and connection of two souls.