21 Days of Posts – Day 16 – Why Do We Fast Every Year?

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This is day sixteen of twenty-one days of posts between January 10th and January 30th of 2021. Hello again to those who read previous days, and hello to those of you who may have stumbled across this post “out of order”. You should go back and read from Day 1, for a few reasons. It explains why I am doing this. It is the first one, and I may make reference to something in it in this post or a later one. It also has a list with each day’s post (once they are available) and you can jump to whatever topic you are interested in. Thanks for reading!

The title of this post could be read multiple ways. It could be just a curious exposition of what the post is about, or it could be a whining complaint of why do we do this every year. I am going to focus on the non-whining explanation, so if you came here to try and find a sympathetic soul for your fasting doldrums, this post is not for you.

Why do we fast every year? I feel, and I’m backed by our pastor’s explanation, that fasting at the start of the year allows us to focus, to begin a new era of time by opening ourselves up to getting close to God. By setting aside food, or social media, or whatever habit, vice, or impediment we choose, we can take the time usually devoted to that and get close to God by reading the Bible, completing devotions, praying, or contemplating our lives from a perspective of eternity, instead of the perspective of yet another new year on this earth.

As a dear saint I knew used to say, fasting was one way for us to come clean with God and get close to him. Clean and close. Emptying out our lives of comforts or habits and taking time to focus more on God allows us, maybe even prods us, to be real honest with Him. The more we talk with Him, the easier it will be and the more we talk with Him, the greater opportunity we have to remember our shortcomings, confess them, and put them squarely at His feet. Then we can get closer, as our relationship will become more intimate in the process.

New year’s resolutions fade quickly, but twenty-one days focused on God can evoke changes in us that are permanent and unfading. Studies say that it takes between 18 and 254 days to make a new habit. That gives these twenty-one days a good chance to change us for good. What would you like to change about your life?

Aside from forming good habits or tossing bad ones, the fast can also change your perspective. I wrote about perspective a couple of days ago. You should go back and read that if you haven’t. I have a piece of paper attached to my monitor where I see it every day. It says “perspective instantiates reality”. The way we see things makes a difference in how we respond to them. Every one of us has a slightly different perspective on life, on people, on God, on good times, on catastrophe. That perspective will strongly contribute to whether or not we curl into a ball at the first sign of trouble, or we stand strong, wearing the full armor of God as described in Ephesians 6. Because as verse 12 of that chapter explains:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

The fast can give us the tools we need to stand – the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with readiness, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation. By getting clean and getting close to God, we can take up these tools and be ready to face the enemy, knowing that the ultimate battle has already been won.

If you are fasting, what have you learned? Have you gotten clean? Close? Have you listened to God so that you know what he is asking you to do? This is the point. This is why. We fast to learn, to grow, to hear and finally to obey. I hope your fast, if indeed you are on one, is going well. If you are not fasting, give it a try. You don’t have to fast for twenty-one days to see change, as long as you are committed to the process.

Lord, I thank you that we can become clean and draw closer to You during this fast. Help us to stay the course, finish strong and learn to listen to You.

Featured Image: Photo by Preillumination SeTh on Unsplash

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