Fasting is a reminder of the eternal hunger we deserve
If all food is a picture of how Jesus provided our eternal life through death and resurrection, then taking time to abstain from food for prayer can be a powerful way to feel the eternal spiritual hunger we were saved from.
Every time you feel hungry when you fast it is a reminder to be thankful. For me, it reminds me to pray at all. I am a thinker. So it is easy for me to go a whole day thinking a lot about God without praying to him at all. Fasting helps keep me on my toes (or knees) throughout the day as far as prayer goes.
There’s two aspects of spiritual hunger that I am reminded of when I fast:
The eternal hunger we were saved from
No one alive today has experienced this hunger. Even the poorest of the poor in this world.
All good things come from God. Even people who hate God experience his goodness. All beauty, love, and peace comes from him.
There is no such thing as goodness apart from him. There is nothing that is enjoyable apart from his presence. His presence is absolutely the only thing that makes things enjoyable.
If God left us in our sin and we found ourselves in hell after this life, we would not only be apart from his presence of blessing but also every single thing that points to him. In hell there will be constant pain, constant hunger, constant restlessness. All beauty, love, and hope will be gone.
Fasting reminds us of this and helps us to be deeply thankful.
The current hunger we will be brought out of someday
There is also a spiritual hunger we are experiencing right now. We still live in a sinful world. Though God has made his home in our hearts through his Spirit, he is still waiting to make this earth his home:
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.‘ And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.‘ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true’” (Revelation 21:3-5).
We are waiting to be made whole. We are waiting to be finally and fully fed by his presence. We still feel that agonizing ache of separation from our Great and Beautiful Maker.
We can get awfully comfortable in this world. Or we can spend a lot of time seeking comfort here. But fasting is a powerful reminder that the true comfort and wholeness and fullness is coming. It is a reminder that compared to what is coming we are painfully starving right now.
When you fast and really feel the ache of hunger remember that that is how you feel spiritually now; we just get used to it. When you break your fast with a deliciously satisfying meal know that that is a picture of how it will feel to be finally full with the Lord’s presence.
Start fasting regularly. As far as I know there is no magical amount of time you should fast. Just do it as long as you can so that it is effective. Don’t do it as a way to pay God back for your sins. Don’t do it to punish yourself. Do it to remind yourself of him. And if you can, break your fast with a community meal.
How else does fasting help your relationship with God?