Leeds Vineyard

Why Do I Fast? Remembering a broken world

I have been reading recently about the way Jesus was challenged about fasting. He started his ministry with a 40-day fast. And then the way He lived his life implied that He pursued devotional disciplines that would undoubtedly have included fasting. 

But then we read in Luke 5 that He, or at least His disciples, were criticised for not fasting, They said to him, “John's disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking”. 

Jesus answered, “Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.” 

He told them this parable: “No-one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no-one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no-one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.'” 

Old software on old computers, new software on new computers. 

The Pharisees and John’s disciples were living in the past, waiting for and praying for the kingdom to come. Jesus’ disciples were living in the present and knew the king was with them. 

Jesus seems to be saying that fasting has a context. It is not a tick-box exercise to do to keep you holy but a response to the current situation. It is a good thing to fast when the circumstances indicate that something is not right. It is also fine to celebrate when there is reason for it. 

So, one of the reasons I fast is in order to re-connect with an awareness that some things are just not right, the kingdom of God is not yet here, not everyone knows the presence of Jesus in their lives, there is still justice to be done and kindness to be known. 

That is why we fast and pray. Things just aren’t as they should be. We fast in order to remember that our lives are broken and our world is broken. And we pray in order to invite God’s presence more and more into our lives and into our world. 

 Other articles about fasting 
Week of Prayer and Fasting 201
Week of Prayer and Fasting - January 2015
You are invited to join in a week of prayer and fasting when we listen to what God is saying to us and pray for ourselves and the church. This year the theme is "I am doing a new thing". More ...
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Why Do I Fast? To pray in His name
The spiritual discipline of fasting gives God the opportunity to teach, train and heal us. It is not a way of earning answers to prayer but of learning how to pray. More ...
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Why Do I Fast? Going for gold
The only way an athlete wins gold is by disciplining and controlling their body. This is another reason why I fast. More ...
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Why Do I Fast? False comforts
The bible encourages us to fast but is not prescriptive about how we should do it nor indeed what it is. People fast in different ways and for different reasons. Here is one of the reasons I fast. More ...
David Flowers