Fasting for Spiritual Formation

I recently heard a replacement term for “spiritual disciplines.”  The new term is “soul training exercises.”  There is concern that some might have lost sight of the point and made the “disciplines” ends in themselves.  In order words, “get the disciplines down pat and you will instantly be spiritual.”  The opposite of this would be viewing the disciplines as optional for ordinary Christians and necessary only for the super spiritual.  Pursuing the disciplines as ends in themselves leads one to take pride in their accomplishments.  Not having the disciplines in one’s life leads one to a flabby, out of shape Christianity that is a poor excuse for discipleship.  My prayer is that neither will be considered the norm for us! 

I don’t think I can overstate the importance of fasting for us today.  It is more than intensified prayer; although it can serve that pupose.  It is a direct attack on the addiction we all have to the culture of instant gratificaiton.  The purpose of fasting is not to master the fast; it is simply one tool to use in our pursuit of God and the holy life that he has called us to live.  The reason fasting is such an important tool is that I know of no other way to practice self-denial.  One who has learned to deny self though periods of fasting will have a much easier time of denying self when called upon by God to serve.  Fasting helps train one to be forgiving, loving, a servant, and a multitude of other attitudes and actions that spring from a transformed life. 

Please join me this week in identifying one idol in your life that is competing with God and take steps to prevent that idol from having control over you.  Decide what kind of a fast would be a useful way to deny yourself so that you can focus your attention more completely on God.  Set a beginning time and an ending time.  Partner up with a friend for the fast if you like.  This can help with accountability as well as giving you a prayer partner.  Let’s get serious about following Paul’s admonition to “Train yourself to be godly” (1 Timothy 4:7).

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Byron FikePreaching Minister

Byron has been the preaching minister at Clear Lake since 1999. He and his wife have three grown children, who have also devoted their lives to serving the Lord. In his personal time, Byron likes to read books, watch movies, and play with his little dog Willie. He also is an avid follower of Alabama football, having grown up in Tuscaloosa during the glory days of Bear Bryant.

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2 Responses to “Fasting for Spiritual Formation”

  1. avatar Anonymous says:

    “As God is my witness, I'll never go hungry again.” Once you've fasted without having a choice, you know you can survive without food for a few days and knowing it is voluntary makes it a lot easier. I'd rather follow Jesus than John the Baptist. I can go hungry easier than I could eat a locust I think.

  2. avatar tommytwotoez says:

    Enjoyed both the class and sermon Mr. Byron! In honesty this is a subject that I’ve personally viewed as archaic until recent years. Of course there were several disciplines in which I did not fully understand or thought expected (or even acceptable) within the Church of Christ. Meditation? Silent Prayer? Fasting? What is this new age guru-ness? But thanks fully to God, His Spirit, and His Son that we’ve been lead into this study. Since its onset I’ve felt more deliberate in my spiritual practices and dare I say, more authentic.

    The purpose of this of course is to find that perfect balance of emptiness. Allowing God to will our hearts is a new concept for me, previously disillusioned with self-merit or anything of the self- the (I, me, and my) conversations with the One who should have and always do the talking. “Please Lord, transform me in newness…”

    Fasting (i feel) is where absolute abandoning should start. Total and complete focus, combined with adequate silence and solitude(prayer), on our King…but now I understand that this is not for any self-proof or self-merit (look how good I am Lord), but a form of transparency and the empting of ourselves and allowing God to refill us with HIS will and no longer our own.

    I pray that the Lord continues to soften our hearts, renewing and filling us with His love and will. I pray that it is not I that live but Christ within and throughout me.

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