There are fifty-nine national parks in our country, but most Americans suffer from a lack of wilderness. Most of us have the ability to skip a meal anytime we want, yet Christianity today is suffering from a great neglect of spiritual disciplines, including fasting. Jesus went into the wilderness, as the song says, to fast and pray for us. We each have people that we should be fasting and praying for. Our spiritual disciplines this lent, should be brave enough to do what ever it takes to gain the moral high ground in our lives.
My cousin Giselle recently asked me if Protestant’s fasted for Lent, or if that was just a Catholic thing. I replied as follows:
“Good question. Fasting is, as you know, a part of many spiritual traditions, including the Jewish practices that Christianity inherited and continued. For the first 1,000 years, all Christians were Catholic (a word meaning Universal church) and the traditions relating to fasting were accepted by the Protestant reformers (Luther, Calvin, etc.) and the Orthodox traditions as they split off. The difference today is that the Roman Catholic church has identified certain days with particular kinds of fasts (meatless Fridays in Lent), but all Christians try to increase their spiritual disciplines durning the forty days leading to Easter.”
Jesus, and all of the great teachers of our faith, have made fasting a part of their regular spiritual process. Jesus famously, fasted for forty days in the wilderness. What came to Jesus from the experience was a renewed understanding of his mission on earth. He came to appreciate three things that we all need to know:
First: Because God spoke everything into existence, his word is more important for our daily life than bread. Prayer and Scripture study should be like breathing, something we can’t live without.
Second: Doing something great doesn’t make you a great person. Instead of jumping off high buildings or trying to be the perfect parent or running in the Boston Marathon, we should simply be who we are meant to be. Character is everything. The daily walk of being in the moment is a crazy thing to lose.
Third: Spirit is more important than stuff. Look how shallow we have become. We worshipfully tag our Pinterest wish list of clothing, household decor items, cars, and gizmos. Jesus is deep. Hear, Oh Israel. The Lord your God is one. You shall worship Him with all your heart, and mind, and strength, and all of your soul.