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Fasting and Worship

While fasting and worship may seem to be different types of spiritual disciplines than the disciplines of prayer and meditation we looked at in the last article, their purpose is the same: to help us submit to the will of God in our lives and upon close self-examination, remove obstacles that we may identify that hinder us moving closer in our relationship with God. Fasting is more of an interior, individual discipline and worship is a corporate discipline but their goal of practicing them is still the same, submission to God.

As citizens of free enterprise America, we are constantly bombarded with commercials and food engineering designed to make us hungry or at least to think we are hungry. You might be amazed after giving up certain foods how a simple bite of something can make it almost impossible to “eat just one” as the old Lay’s Potato Chip commercial told us. Fasting may be one of the most physically demanding of the Disciplines but one of the easiest to know if you are following or not. Fasting as a spiritual Discipline is not about self-deprivation or mortification. Nor is it about losing weight or dieting; it is about abstaining from food for spiritual purposes and should only be done after much prayer and meditation. If God has led you to fast, you will have a meaningful fast. If not, all the fasts in the world may do little more than help you to lose some weight.

There are many different ways to fast. You can abstain from a specific item or groups of food such as those containing processed sugar or meats. You will be surprised at how much of your attention will be turned to God each time you think about eating one of these items. John Wesley urged his followers to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. There was a time when he refused to ordain anyone who did not fast on those two days. Since there is no commandment or law regarding the days of a fast, God may guide you to choose other days on a different number of days each week. You might also decide to fast from noon one day until noon the next giving up the two meals in between. You should check with your doctor about some of the physical adjustments the body makes even during a simple fast for a short period but especially if you want to explore the benefits of a fast from all food for an extended period.

Matthew 4:10 says “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve” and then in 22:37, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Worship is to know the reality of God in the midst of the gathered community. It is the corporate response to God reaching out to us in love even before we are aware of God’s full nature. Practicing all the spiritual Disciplines as well as singing the greatest hymns, praying long prayers and praising may lead us to worship, but the spiritual Discipline of worship is more than any of these. It is experiencing the presence of God and responding to the Love of God in your life. People of the Bible, when they gathered for worship, expected to hear the voice of God in the

See you Sunday,
Jim

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