Journey with Jesus Lent Devotional
Week 1 ┃ Sheila Sekela
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tested by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. – Matthew 4:1-2
“If we don’t feel desires for God, it’s not because we’ve drunk deeply and are satisfied. It’s because we’ve nibbled so long at the table of the world.” – John Piper
I have a confession: I hate fasting. I struggle with denying myself something I want. I think it’s a pride thing, as most sin is. But Jesus fasted, for 40 days and nights! Sinless as He was, he chose to “crucify the flesh” by fasting. If He felt the need to do that, then it’s probably a great idea for me as well. Studying fasting in preparation for writing these Lenten devotionals has been quite enlightening; allow me to share some things I’ve learned.
First, what fasting is not. Fasting is not a way to gain favor, not a quid pro quo. It is not self-punishment. It isn’t public, and it isn’t commanded though it does seem to be expected (See Matt 6:16-18, 9:15).
Fasting is a way to fuel longing for God and to kill idols in our lives. It focuses us on prayer, and helps us to hear God. It reveals hidden sin to us. Fasting strengthens intimacy with God and loosens the ties that bind us with the world in order to concentrate on the spiritual.
I have sustained several losses in the last few years, and have been hurt and disillusioned. I haven’t walked away from my faith, but it has felt pretty dry much of the time. I have started my day with prayer and Bible study for decades, but I even found that habit falling by the wayside as I comforted myself with other things.
The quote above about “nibbling at the table of the world” really hit me between the eyes, my friends! So, I decided to fast from a couple of things I “over desire”. Every time I want to indulge, I remind myself that I am crucifying the flesh in order to draw closer to God. In addition, I began the spiritual practice of meditation on scripture. Now my joy and peace are coming back, and I have hope again! It feels a bit like a miracle, and I am so grateful.
Lent is a season of preparation for Easter. It is about fasting from our worldly nibbling, yes, but also about drinking in God’s abundant life. What do you need to remove from your life and replace with something more life-giving? Let fasting ready your heart to really celebrate Resurrection Sunday, it may just change your life.