"Fasting is a spiritual remedy to what is, really, a spiritual problem. To fast shows our reliance upon God for all things. It reminds us that we are, ultimately, spiritual beings. It confirms that 'man does not live by bread alone;' 'Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty;' 'This is my body which is given for you;' and 'I am the bread of life.'"
I wish I had that quote from Tony Jones last night as I was preparing to lead Aldersgate's Senior Catechism class. Fasting is something at I have tried on multiple occasions with some success. Whether it was a normal fast (abstaining from all food, but not water) or a partial fast (limiting my diet) I always find that everyone around me is eating or hosting a party. Either I am a horrible planner or my friends have it out for me.
Last year during Lent, like a lot of other Christians, I gave something up. Last year I fasted from social media, specifically from Facebook. I never really realized how much time we are able to dedicate to updating status postings of people we have not spoken to in years. I guess it is the same way my wife and I say "there's nothing to eat" when our pantry and refrigerator is well-stocked. Much like how social media can be a distraction for many of us, so can food; more specifically, what our next meal will.
One of the things you will discover during a period of fasting (other than a grumbling stomach or reaching a new level of irritability is self-discipline and a reliance upon God. We rely upon God for everything and by fasting we are able to see that we are indeed spiritual beings.
This is what I wish I had been able to vocalize last night. I was able to remind our students that fasting is not giving up food for the sake of giving up food. And it's not something that we should dread doing. I wish I had been able to tell them what Tony wrote. That, "fasting is a spiritual remedy to what is, really a spiritual problem."
You can read more about what Tony Jones has to say about fasting and other spiritual practices in The Sacred Way.