Weekly Devotional

Fast Paced Faith

Reflection by Liz Garrigan-Byerly

Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of injustice,
    to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke?


Fasting is an ancient practice, common in biblical times and throughout much of Christian history. Early Christians fasted every week and Jesus probably did the same. Simply put, to fast is to abstain, and fasting as a spiritual practice takes on many forms, from not eating anything to abstaining from certain foods during certain times, to taking the Facebook app off your phone.

There are a lot of critiques of fasting: it's too legalistic; it's self-centered; it's physically and spiritually harmful; it's outdated. Each critique has merit. And yet, I think fasting is one of the most important spiritual practices we have. In an age where almost anything can be delivered to our doorstep with the push of a few buttons, we need spiritual practices that remind us of the limits of our humanity. In an age where multiple devices and many sources of information vie for our attention, we need spiritual practices that focus us on the Divine. In an age where injustice reigns and people of faith are called upon to provide moral authority, we need to be practiced at sacrifice or we won’t be part of building up God’s reign.

This Lent, I'm fasting from buying anything except food and essential household items. Will that loosen the chains of injustice or undo the thongs of the yoke to let the oppressed go free? Hardly. But, it will force me to think about God more in my daily life (when that coupon arrives in the mail or I remember that book I’ve been wanting to order), about all that God provides for me (and how little that new shirt would have given me) and about what God requires of me (to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God). It will train my muscles of discipline and sacrifice so that when the time comes (as it always does) for me to step out of my comfortable life for the sake of the gospel, I’ll be ready.

Holy God, help us discern what fasts you are requiring of us in this season. Amen.




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