Friday, February 24, 2012

Lent Day 3

Matthew 9:12-15
When you fasted yesterday, was it hard? Were you faithful in your fast anyways? I have to admit that I'm not always faithful when I try to fast. We are weak; we fail easily. Yet this is in itself another reason to choose to fast and to make other sacrifices. We need to remember how very much we need God. We are weak humans; we are the sick people Jesus is talking about who need Him to be our physician. Today as you fast again, every time you want the thing you are avoiding, ask Jesus to help you say no. If you give in to your desire and eat or play the thing you've given up for the day, ask Him to forgive you (for breaking your promise), ask Him to help you grow in faithfulness, and then choose again to avoid that food or activity for the rest of the day.


  1. As a protestant Christian, I do not practice the Catholic tradition of “Lent.” However, concerning fasting, which is something that not only Catholic followers do, but also millions of Christians world-wide do; they practice fasting whether it is for Lent or just because God has led them to fast. The Scriptures have a lot to say about the subject of fasting. Let's start with the the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, who penned these words in the eight century B.C., "Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Isaiah 58:6 (NKJV). God revealed to this major prophet in the Old Testament nearly 2,800 years ago, that the benefits of fasting include, but not limited to: Loosing the bonds of wickedness, to undo heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke. What do these statements mean for us as New Testament believers in our world over 2,800 years later? The first major benefit listed here by Isaiah of fasting is that it loosens the bond of wickedness; in other words, fasting, and the fruit of fasting, can break the bonds of personal sin that Christians sometimes struggle with; we should not be “Mastered” by anything says Paul in the New Testament, I Corinthians 6:12, "Everything is permissible for me” but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"--but I will not be mastered by anything.” Paul in reference to food and the body, says we should not be mastered by anything; food was made for the body, not the body being made for food. In other words, Paul is arguing that food serves as purpose to sustain our bodies and keep them nourished and living, yet, his admonishing is that we should not be mastered by food. Therefore, fasting can be a means whereby Christians can be delivered from various vices, sins, and bad habits. The second major benefit listed by the prophet is that fasting helps undo heavy burdens. Jesus, in Matthew says, Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matt 11:29-30 (KJV) When we fast, we yoke ourselves with Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, and he releases the heaven burdens that we sometime (even unknowingly) carry. The third benefit that the prophet mentions some 2,800 years ago, is that fasting lets the oppressed go free. What is oppression? Oppression can come in many forms; it can be financial oppression, because of a lack of finances thereby creating stress; oppression can be relational, it can come in the form of a an unhappy spouse, and finally, oppression can be spiritual. Jesus, in his ministry on earth, came to set the oppressed free. The Gospels reveal that Jesus was in the business of loosing the captives. As a matter of fact, when He read the Scriptures in the Synagogue, He was basically announcing to His audience that He was the long awaited Messiah; He opened the Hebrew scroll to Isaiah 61:1-3, reads it out loud, and at this moment Jesus announced, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (SEE Luke 4:18-21, Jesus came to set the oppressed free). The fourth benefit that Isaiah the prophet mentions is that of yoke breaking. What is a yoke? In ancient times, a yoke was a crossbar with two U-shaped pieces that encircle the necks of a pair of oxen or other draft animals working together. The yoke brings harmony and strength between the two oxen. Likewise, the work load becomes easier to manage when we are yoked with Jesus instead of being yoked to sin, a bad relationship, or a bad habit that when we submit to, often times will inflict guilt and condemnation upon the believers heart and conscience mind. As you fast during this Catholic season of “Lent” or you practice fasting as a Christ follower, let's keep the words of Isaiah, Jesus, and the Apostle Paul in mind when we fast.

    Charles Craig Lantz, Ph.D.

    1. Craig, Catholics aren't the only ones to practice Lent. While we're more "obvious" about it *as a group*, I know quite a few non-Catholics who choose to "celebrate" Lent, or "40 Days", because it can be so beneficial spiritually. We would be happy to have you join us. What do you think, now through Easter? ;-)
      You've pointed out some good reasons to fast. Scripture has *so much* to say about it. I like Mahesh Chavda's book (see my shelfari). He's a Protestant minister and missionary I learned about through George. I'm not planning on using this blog to explore every aspect of fasting but rather give a daily meditation to move into a deeper relationship with Christ. Each day and each year we can choose to draw closer to the Lord or move further away from Him; focusing our efforts through more intense prayer and fasting during a short season such as Lent can bear tremendous fruit that we continue to enjoy as we pray, read Scripture, and fast throughout the year.