In defence of fasting

Michael Bishop 30 Oct 2017 sunday blog  fasting 

In the early church there was a well-established practice of fasting twice a week and the first Methodists revived this ancient practice (Wesley was hesitant to ordain ministers who didn’t fast regularly). In our day – when the consumer is king – fasting seems pretty extreme. Why shouldn’t we enjoy our food?

Well, of course it’s not that food or the enjoyment of food is bad, but it’s what we sometimes do with food that is a problem. Have you ever noticed the way that we will often eat not when we are hungry, but when we are restless or unhappy. We use food to smother something else that is going on within us.

Richard Foster has observed that “more than any other spiritual discipline, fasting reveals what controls us”. When we stop eating for a time, we have to face the stuff we’ve been avoiding.

Although fasting has always referred to abstaining from eating, sometimes it may be that we use something other than food to smother or cover up a restless longing within us. I’ve noticed recently that I am constantly looking at stuff on my phone or PC. Instead of opening the fridge and looking for something to eat to make me feel better, I tap into the endless news cycle or go down the rabbit hole on Twitter or Youtube. Reading articles about the political developments in our country may seem more respectable than watching Jonty Rhodes’ best ten runouts on Youtube, but ultimately it is an escape from the present moment.

I’ve also noticed that when we return from a family holiday outside of cellphone range, I’ve actually missed nothing and am in a healthy, less compulsive place when it comes to technology. I’m pretty sure that a fast from news or technology will reveal something that is controlling me and open my eyes to the steps needed to lead me back to a healthier relationship with my devices.

Anyone want to join me in a fast?


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