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Connecting to God - Fasting
During Lent, our goal is to fully connect to God so we will to be ready to accept the new life that has been prepared for us on Easter Sunday!  To deepen our relationship with God, we look to our example and model Jesus.  John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, taught 7 spiritual disciplines (Fasting, Worship, Scripture, Communion, Prayer, Christian Conferencing, and Acts of Mercy) practiced by Jesus that are also available to us.  Through the practice of these acts, we experience God’s grace in a special way drawing closer God and each other.  Each week during Lent, we will consider one discipline.  The challenge is to select one that you do not already practice on a regular basis and try it for the remaining days of Lent.
 
Fasting
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished.  Luke 4:1-2
Fasting is perhaps the most misunderstood of the disciplines and yet it is mentioned repeatedly in the both the New and Old Testaments.   In Jesus’ day, fasting was considered a natural part of a relationship with God.  John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Today, I think many of us perceive fasting as a punishment.  “If I give up chocolate for Lent, I will be sufficiently punished by Easter that God will forgive me for my sins.”  The whole point of Lent and Easter is to remind us that Jesus already showed us how much God loves and forgives us through his life, teachings, death and resurrection.  I have never once heard that giving up chocolate saves us from anything except maybe a growing waist line.
However, fasting can be used to slow our pace and remind us of our need for God’s grace and creative power.  There are many ways to experience a fast.  Here are a few.
Give up lunch on Friday’s.  Use the time and resources you gain to add one of the other disciplines by spending the time in prayer or reading scripture.  Give the money you save as an act of mercy to a feeding ministry.
If health issues prohibit you from giving up food try another type of fast.  Instead of going out to dinner, make a small meal at home and donate the difference in price.  Give up your morning Starbuck’s coffee one or more day a week and donate that money.  Refrain from purchasing snack foods for the duration of Lent and donate the money you save.  A side benefit just might be a healthier diet and a new way of looking at food.
You can probably think of 100 other creative ways to both remind yourself of your need for God’s grace and to reach out in love to others.  I would love to hear some of your ideas on my Facebook page.
 
Six weeks in Lent is a long time - long enough to start new habits and new ways of living.  Use your fast, not as a punishment but as a way to allow room in your life for God to create something new!