The First Sunday in Lent, March 5

A Question About Fasting
Mark 2:18-22

In the first part of this scripture, Jesus is questioned by the Pharisees as to why His disciples do not fast. Jesus makes the analogy of Himself as a bridegroom present at a wedding feast with His friends, and that when He is taken away, then His disciples will fast.

Fasting is a spiritual discipline that has lost some of its significance in the modern, bountiful, wealthy culture of the United States. Our former agrarian society, where people grew their own food, has been replaced by a post-industrial society where most people purchase their food. We have lost consciousness of the reality that food is a gift from God and not Publix. The purpose of fasting is to remind us that all things come from God, including our very reliance on Him for our daily sustenance. During the Lenten season, some Christians have substituted a modified form of fasting for the traditional fast. We give up indulging in a thing or things we enjoy, for example, chocolate, ice cream, or alcoholic beverages, as our sacrifice and acknowledgment to God that He is the Creator and provider of all. Jesus also reminds us in Matthew 6:16-18 that when we fast (note that He did not say if we fast) not to make a public display of it for the benefit of others, but to do so for the Glory of God.

Stepping Out in Lent - While small sacrifices of pleasurable things may help us to acknowledge our dependence on God, let us resolve to go deeper in this season of Lent. Daily reflect on God’s Grace and Mercy. Give thanks to God for your blessings, and pray for His continued shaping of your life. Fast if you are able.

Author - Larry O’Dell is a retired government manager and married to Jan, a retired elementary school teacher. They have two married children and two grandchildren.