Today, we’re challenging you to lean more on the Word of God than nourishment from food. That’s right: We’re asking you to fast at least one meal today.
Fasting is a good way to discover what’s really in our hearts. You can learn a lot about yourself when you’re hungry and can’t have food. We strengthen our faith when we fast because we learn to depend on God.
Before you fast, read or listen to this sermon by John Piper. He discusses the 40-day fast of Jesus in the wilderness and why it is beneficial for us to fast, too.
Fast at least one meal today (drinking water is fine), and no, it cannot be a meal you were planning to skip anyway. If you never eat breakfast, you can’t skip it today and call that your fast. This must be intentional. Use the extra time you have from skipping a meal to read your Bible or pray. If you decide to skip lunch at work, for example, use your lunch hour to read through some of Jesus’ teachings or pray through some of Psalms or Proverbs.
Your other option is to do a tech fast instead. Give up one piece of technology that takes away from time you could be spending with God. For example, if you usually spend a few hours a day watching TV, turn it off for the whole day. Use that spare time to read your Bible and pray.
As much as I would have liked to, it wasn't feasible for me to fast from a meal today. I recently started training for a marathon, and the extra running I've been doing makes it very obvious when I've missed a meal. I become agitated, can't quite think straight, and really fail when it comes to doing my job. So had this been a request over the weekend (when I wouldn't need to be productive in the office) it would work well ... but on a Thursday, not so much (though I might revisit this over the weekend anyway).
So instead, I chose to turn off the TV today. All day. Television is the way I unwind after a tough day at work. I can lose myself in a spy drama or laugh with reckless abandon along with a miscellaneous sit com. Anything that takes me out of myself and lets me move past the transitory problems of my day. I usually don't watch a lot of TV during the week, but Thursdays are actually my big night. Several good shows are on, and I'll usually catch up with my DVR. Tonight, though, I turned it all off and spent a few extra hours in prayer.
After reading John Piper's sermon, and meditating on its words when I'd normally be vegging on the couch, I kept coming back to one series of questions:
What are we slaves to? What are our bottom line passions?
Years ago, someone asked me what my passions were. At the time, I hadn't really thought about it. I was in college, and spent my days doing college-like things. I'd get up, go to class, go to discussion groups, do homework, watch movies with friends, and attend various social gatherings. I was quite busy, but I wasn't really passionate about anything I was doing.
The truth is, every single item on my daily schedule was a distraction.
Just like an hour or two of television at the end of my day is a distraction. It's something to fill my time with when I could - and should - be passionately chasing after God.
Am I passionate about the stories I watch unfold on TV? No. They're all fictional - entertaining, yes, but they hold no real weight. Am I passionate about the computer I sit on all day at work? Not really. I'm very good at my job and I enjoy working with new technologies, but it's not the thought of writing code or testing a new application that stirs me in the middle of the night.
So what am I a slave to? It seems there's quite a long list. I'm online all day. I live on my computer. I spend my leisure hours keeping company with characters on TV or in various series of novels. But are any of these my bottom line passions?
It wasn't until just today that I truly understood the point behind Philippians 1:12:
For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Life should be about wholeheartedly pursuing our bottom line passions - about being a slave for Christ. Not being a slave to television, technology, entertainment, or anything else we can waste our time with - and truly, when we could and should be spending our time with the Lord, what else could time spent elsewhere be but a waste?