Locations & Times

Making Room for More of God: The Spiritual Discipline of Fasting

by Madelynn Keselburg on July 21, 2023

When was the last time you thanked God for your life?

For some, this might be a daily practice but for me, when I was a senior in high school, it never crossed my mind. I had the opportunity to go on my first mission trip to Guatemala when I was 17. One of our tasks was to distribute food baskets to people in the community. After driving a while, the van stopped in the middle of nowhere, and we were told we had to walk the rest of the way. We walked a mile through a cornfield, over a river, and arrived at a small opening that was the humble home of a family of five. We got to meet with the family, hear their story, and give them the food basket. The mom said something that has never left me, “I thank God every day for my life.” Their life was not convenient, but they had something far more valuable. This is not a story of lack of necessity but of great faith and closeness to our Creator.

I came back to the States with a great desire to be closer to God and to thank Him every day. Not long after, I fell back into the busyness of life and I forgot. Thanks to the Lord’s patience and grace, He gently reminded me and brought the discipline of fasting to my attention.

To me, fasting did not sound fun. Why would anyone give up food on purpose? I remember the first time I put fasting into practice, and the whole day all I could think about was what I was going to eat. My heart behind it was just trying to abstain from food. But I was missing the point.

The practice of fasting can be defined as the spiritual discipline of abstaining from something — often food — to give greater attention to spiritual matters. 1 Peter 5:5 states, “God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble.”

In humbling ourselves to go without something, we are then putting ourselves in a position to experience more of God in its place. John Piper writes, “Christian fasting, at its root, is the hunger of a homesickness for God.”

When we put something aside, we are choosing that our desire for God is far greater than our desire for the things in this world. I soon began to realize fasting is for us, not against us. This changed my heart posture from trying my hardest not to eat the food I so badly wanted but instead seeking God who supplies all my needs. After a fast, I do not arrive at perfection. Rather, I get closer to a deeper relationship with Him. Just like after one workout, you will not be perfectly fit. It takes discipline and consistency.

The woman living in Guatemala was not fasting — or even choosing her circumstances — but she taught me how to trust and seek God. Her eyes were on Jesus, not on this world. Fasting is a gift from God in which we get to intentionally seek Him and find Him.

"I love those who love Me, and those who seek Me diligently find Me."
— Proverbs 8:17

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