'(Asceticism) ... releases the soul from bondage to the body, permitting union with the divine.'
This week, as part of our Transit Course with 24-7 Prayer, we had assignments to do - we each had a 10 minute slot which was to be filled (in any way we wanted) by exploring something we have learned in order to teach the rest of the group.
One thing (alongisde hundreds others) that I have really been challenged about thus far is this topic of 'fasting'. Now anyone who knows me will know that I am quite a fan of food, anything from a 14oz rare steak to raw fish, I love it (exceptions naturally being mushrooms and tomato soup) so this whole concept of 'giving up food for God' really got my wee mind ticking.
In order to do my 10 minute power point presentation I had alot of reading to do, largely into asceticism and its practice, fasting and its routes, biblical examples of fasting and a couple of christian books on the topic, I further did some interviews with members within the community here who fast. I can now positively say I am well versed in this topic. Which again in itself presents a further challenge - I have not found one bad thing that comes from fasting, we can all put up with headaches and grumpiness, yet all comments and readings were positive - folks testified to how blown away they were by God, how in tune with God they were - I may love my food but am I missing out on something here???
The answer is obviously yes.
Matthew 6:16 'and WHEN you fast ...'
Luke 5:34-35 'Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not! But someday the groom will be taken from them, and then they will fast.'
Acts 14:23 'With prayer and fasting they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord.'
Luke 2:37 ' ... there she worshipped God with prayer and fasting.'
Clear biblical commands.
Confidently, I feel its possible to say, that as Jesus interested folk, we should be fasting.
Fasting as Jesus talked about it.
Fasting on behalf of others.
Fasting to get to know God more.
Fasting to worship him.
Empty words can't feature here.
It's pretty simple really, pray and fast, the two go hand in hand, the troubling bit is us, are we really willing?