“When you fast, do not look somber.” (Matt. 6:16)

JUST BEFORE SITTING DOWN to write this devotion on fasting, I got up to get a snack! I am a microcosm of the North American condition. We don’t just need food; we are obsessed with it. One study I read said that millennials are round-the-clock eaters, having breakfast, lunch, and dinner—and a snack in between each one. I’d venture to guess that more than 25 percent of readers will get up and get a snack the minute they finish reading this page! In a world of constant eating, how are we to interpret Jesus’ words “When you fast”—not if you fast but when. What’s the value of going without food for a while?

Let’s look at a time when Jesus fasted, in Matthew 4. When the Devil tempted Him with food, Jesus quoted a Scripture that reminds us we need more than bread to stay alive; we must feed on the Word of God. Fasting shifts our dependence. All our thoughts of food are redirected toward God. The body’s cravings are momentarily set aside so the soul’s hunger can be addressed. We literally empty our stomachs of food to be filled more with the Spirit of God. Fasting is not a spiritual badge of courage; it’s a means of connection with the Father. If we expect affirmation for fasting, we are looking to be filled with the wrong thing.

Fast one meal this week and spend the time praying instead.

Jarod Osborne is the lead pastor of Warsaw Wesleyan Church. He is also the author of Jaded Faith (WPH).

© 2017 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.