Fasting Without Excuses
The season of self-examination prompts me to ask, “What have I neglected in my own walk as a follower of Jesus Christ?” What have I neglected in my own walk toward a more holy life? How might this 2017 season of Lent serve as an invitation for me (and for you) to make space and time for the One who transcends space and time? Lent has been a time for me to reflect on the deep meaning of the spiritual hymn, “Lord, I want to be a Christian.”
Is it possible to be like Jesus, more loving, more holy, and more forgiving? In this day and age is it possible to take Jesus seriously? During this last week of Lent, as we journey from Jerusalem to Calvary, I believe we can exercise spiritual disciplines that John Wesley emphasized as core commitments to a life of faithfulness to God in Christ.
Along with prayer, worship, partaking in the Lord’s Supper, and searching the Scriptures, fasting is emphasized as an essential discipline to be practiced with regularity. Fasting is abstaining from eating food for the purpose of enhancing a person’s sense of focus on the presence of God.
Wesley believed that fasting should be a weekly practice allowing for a greater focus on prayer. Fasting was considered more meaningful if it was combined with ministry with the poor. Notwithstanding the many people who cannot abstain from food for a long period of time due to health reasons, I wonder if too many believers are missing out on the benefits of fasting. It is often practiced as a discipline in concert with meditative prayer, solitude and journal writing.
As we embrace what it means to be God’s children during this Holy Week and Easter Sunday, I pray the words of the hymn, “Lord I want to be more loving, more holy, more like Jesus in my heart.” When I contemplate blessed quietness and taking Jesus more seriously, I find the practice of fasting more appealing.
As for me, it is time to put away excuses and take time for fasting.
Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by the Devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up he was hungry. – Luke 4:1-2 (The Message)
Bishop Julius C. Trimble
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