One day, Jesus was out with his followers when he was confronted by this question: “Why do all the other religious groups fast but your followers don’t?” It’s a confusing question for me as a western Christian – I don’t know anyone who fasts outside of the Muslims who participate in Ramadan.
This question reminds me of a day I was telling a young First Nation’s man about a fast I was doing. I told him that I skipped breakfast and lunch and only ate supper for a day. I was feeling quite proud of myself for such sacrifice on behalf of Jesus but this young man couldn’t show his disappointment – this didn’t even rank as a fast for him. He was thinking of a Sundance where people dance and do self-flagellation without food for up to 4 days – now that was a fast. So much for me being a burning, fiery & passionate follower of Jesus.
Jesus answered this question in a way that is offensive to my mind – it doesn’t quite make sense. He got us thinking about a wedding – no one fasts at a wedding! But, a day was coming soon when, Jesus predicted, that his followers would fast because they missed their friend, the Bridegroom. The kind of fasting that Jesus instituted for us is joyful, hope filled and lovesick.
So, I encourage evangelists and all followers of Jesus to fast because:
- every religion values fasting;
- it’s Christianity for beginners. Jesus predicted and prescribed fasting for his followers.
- everything in my natural body resists prayer, and fasting helps;
- It’s a way of expressing, “Jesus, I wish you were right here, right now.”