Fasting is not just an excuse to live a healthier life or kick some bad habits. Fasting can be a profound act of love and a powerful spiritual weapon. Here are some reasons I love it.
First, some demons can only be cast out by prayer and fasting. (Mk 9:28)
Have something tough going on in your life? Or something you’ve struggled with for years but can’t seem to overcome? Maybe you’ve prayed about it over and over again and it doesn’t seem to be getting better? Prayerfully fast.
Second, it gives us solidarity with strangers.
Fasting gives us a teeny, tiny glimpse of how billions of less fortunate people on this planet live every day. It helps us to feel for them so we don’t forget them.
Third, it sets you free to live your best life.
Jesus definitely loved a good party. But when he needed to prepare for the biggest mission of his life (i.e. the beginning of his public ministry), he fasted. During Lent, of course, fasting prepares us for the biggest party of the year. And your own fasting at any time will prepare you for the next big thing in your life.
Fasting is a means of penance, it helps you master your instincts and it wrenches you free from your vices. Once you have the power to say no to your carnal appetites, you are more free to say yes to God’s will in your life. Fasting is a path to genuine freedom.
Fourth, it helps you recognize God’s voice.
Fasting helps you tell your will from God’s will in your life. It distinguishes your voice from God’s voice. See, when you do some serious fasting, that whining-bellyaching voice in your head…that one is yours. The other one, that’s God’s. His is the still, small voice you hadn’t noticed before.
Fifth, it reminds you of the truth about yourself.
The truth is that we are weak. We are limited and in need of a limitless one. We are created, dependent upon a creator.
If we get into the bad habit of automatically quenching our every thirst, satisfying our every urge, we begin to forget that we are mortal. Let’s face it, we can continually stuff ourselves with the finest foods, yet we will still end up hungry again and again. It is good for us to instead periodically embrace that physical hunger and let it drive us toward something more lasting (Jn 6:48-51).
The truth is, we’re dust — and to dust we shall return. And not only are we made of dust, but so is most of the stuff we spend our time chasing every day. All of our money, possessions and earthly accomplishments are not important in themselves. They are all fleeting. They are all, ultimately, dust.
We can spend the rest of our lives chasing more dust, or we can spend it chasing the One who breathes life into dust? Think fast.