Wednesday 11 July, 2018
16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
“When you fast” – I can’t get past this first phrase. “When” – not “if”, not “perhaps if you fast”; not “on the occasions when things are really difficult and you need to get God’s attention” but “when”. The presumption of Jesus is that fasting is a normal element of the Christian life. In fact if we look at the introduction to the previous passage on prayer we get the same construction – “When you pray” (vs. 5). I guess the question is ‘do I pray?’ The answer for pretty much everyone is Yes – like you even need to ask? Yet why is it that fasting seems, well, extreme. Is this denial of food so difficult, is it for super-Christians? Or is it that our flesh, our appetites are so domineering that we don’t give fasting a place in our lives? Is it that while prayer is kind of a religious duty that really doesn’t cost us much fasting, because it means giving something up at its core is somehow a bit too – well extreme?
I find myself reflecting on my need to fast – Jesus makes it plain – when – He expects it – so I should fast, I will fast!
Father, I ask that you would help me to put to death the appetites of my flesh which get in the way of an authentic Christian life – which includes devotion to You as shown in fasting!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
Great comments & reflection Richard, fasting is not my most joyful thing to do, but it does reap its rewards