"Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. (2) And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered..." (Mat 4:1-2).
I can tell you that I have never fasted for 40 days. I'm not sure what that experience would be like however, I do know from some people who have fasted for an extended time that there is a spiritual dynamic at work.
The history of fasting can be traced to the earliest of times.
Let's consider the Garden of Eden and what God said to Adam and Eve: "The tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." (Gen. 2:17)
It would appear that God called a "fast" concerning the fruit of the forbidden tree. The very act of fasting predates "original sinâ" thus, we find an ancient action which has been practiced by Pagans, Judaism and Christianity for centuries.
As we approach the season of Lent let's consider what we should "put off" during this time leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord.
After having removed something from our lives for these 40 days, it is important to consider not taking it back up whether it is a habit, addiction or action.
This is a great time to start praying and considering what needs change in our lives. We all have something that keeps us from "fine tuning" our spiritual life and the act of fasting for a period of time will most certainly give us strength to overcome the problem.
The journey can begin this Wednesday which is called Ash Wednesday. Maybe in your church you will attend a service where the ashes from last years Palm Sunday palms will have been burned and the ashes will be placed on your forehead in the sign of the cross. This is a practice found in the Catholic Church and some Protestant Churches.
As we journey toward Easter let's tune our lives with a dedicated time of prayer and fasting. When we deny ourselves food for a period of time, the spirit becomes more sensitive to the working of the Holy Spirit. Jesus gained power over the devil's temptations.
You may be experiencing a "desertâ" time in your life. You're not sure what tomorrow will bring or you may not even know where your next meal will come from.
Do This: Instead of worrying about your unknown, start praying and spending time with the Lord. If you will spend as much time before the Lord praying for clear direction as you are possibly doing by not talking to him and worrying, your life will change. Mine has and I know many others who have practiced this, and it works.
You may not get an immediate answer but, the answer will arrive and it will arrive in time to meet your needs. God is never too late. He is always on time. The problem is our timetable and his are not always the same. That's where faith comes in.
Back to the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve did not exercise faith in the Creator. Because of their disobedience, sin entered into the world; thus our need for a Savior. We will soon experience crucifixion and resurrection of the Savior. Will you be ready to experience it also?
Start the journey this Wednesday at an Ash Wednesday service and just give it a try for the next few weeks as we journey to the cross.
Michael Layne, Ph.D., Th.D., is Bishop of the Diocese of East Indiana Lutheran Orthodox Church, author and can be reached at 812-662-5154 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.