September 4: The Discipline of the Fast

Read John 6:25-59

In the middle of a rough patch several years ago, God taught me about real bread and real life.

My daughter had been sick. A lot. My husband’s job was iffy at best. And my spirit was tired from the emotional battering that the physical exhaustion had brought.

I found myself escaping any chance I got. Game after mindless game of Bejeweled Blitz was my drug of choice. Sixty seconds at a time I would look for life and rest in that mindless digital puzzle.

When 5,000 men and that many women followed Jesus up that mountain, they thought they knew what would give them life and refreshment. But there was not nearly enough food to go around.

That’s when Jesus stepped up and revealed the truth about real life and bread.

Only He is the bread that gives real life. Only Jesus. Not flour or barley. And not Bejeweled Blitz.

In John 6:35, Jesus called Himself the Bread of Life. But it’s hard to remember that when we stuff our faces with actual bread and feel full and satisfied afterwards. Because physical hunger often masks spiritual hunger.

It’s difficult to picture Jesus being everything we need when we live like we already have everything we need. When we look to anything but Him to satisfy our deepest hunger.

When we fast, we become acutely aware of the stuff we crave. We ask God to help us crave Him more than we crave anything else.

To fast is to be serious enough with the Father to give up something important in order to get down to business with Him.

It’s not an act for others to see and be all impressed by. Rather, it’s an act of humility before God, denying self and all that pretends to satisfy, and looking to Him alone for life.

That’s when God prompted me to fast from computer games for a while.

He used that fast to remind me of my humble position before Him — He alone is the Giver of real life. Only Jesus Christ can satisfy my deepest needs.

It was an act of dying to myself so I could become more fully alive in Him.

It’s why the apostles fasted in Acts before they made big decisions. To humbly ask for His guidance and state without doubt that it was His choice to be made.

How has God shown Himself to be the Bread of Life to you? Is it time to fast from something so He can remind you of His real life?