Today’s post is from my new book Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus). Last Saturday we posted Chapter 27: Love Like Jesus — Make Friends With Money. Love Like Jesus is due to be published later this year.
“The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.”
How Jesus Loved People
Jesus loved people by fasting for them.
“Wait a minute,” you might be saying right now. “When did Jesus fast for people? He wasn’t fasting when he said those words in Luke 5:35.”
You’re right, he wasn’t.
But Jesus did fast for people previously. He fasted for forty days in the wilderness immediately after he was baptized by John. (Matthew 4:2, Luke 4:2) He was inspired by the Holy Spirit to fast, for you, and for me. He fasted out of love for you. He fasted to prepare himself for the work he would do on your behalf. (And it’s also interesting to note that every miracle of Jesus recorded in the bible occurred after he fasted.)
How to Love Like Jesus
Jesus said, “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.” And He said, “When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18)
Jesus didn’t say, “If you fast,” Jesus said, “When you fast.”
Jesus said of his followers, “they will fast.” (Luke 5:35)
So Jesus expects me to fast — as he did. Jesus loved us by fasting to connect with God in a way that prepared him to communicate the love of God. And he expects us to do the same.
Given Jesus’ expectation that we should fast, and given the remarkable results from fasting we see in the life of Jesus, I’m amazed at how few Christians actually engage in the practice of fasting.
Why do we avoid fasting?
Why will the wife on the verge of losing her husband read five self-help books, try three different counselors, and start a new exercise program, but she won’t fast and pray?
Why is it the father and mother whose teenage son or daughter has begun to engage in risky behavior will cry themselves to sleep at night, they’ll lament and complain, they’ll pay for counseling, but they won’t fast and pray?
Why is it the husband and father facing financial collapse will work two jobs, max out every credit card he has, and even borrow from his in-laws, but he won’t fast and pray?
On the topic of fasting and praying Jesus said, “Your Father who sees in secret, will reward you.”
So why won’t you fast?
It doesn’t make any sense not to.
Especially given the good news that there doesn’t seem to be any minimum requirement in scripture concerning length. Jesus doesn’t instruct us on how long we’re to fast.
So you can skip breakfast and spend time praying for God’s Holy Spirit to help you love like Jesus. Or you can skip breakfast and lunch, and then spend your lunch hour praying for the souls of people God puts on your heart. Or you can skip lunch, dinner, and tomorrow’s breakfast, and pray multiple times for God to conform you into the likeness of Jesus.
You can fast to prepare your soul to love like Jesus, even as Jesus fasted to prepare himself to love.
There’s no reason not to do it.
There are powerful and compelling reasons to do it.
Jesus who fasted on your behalf desires you to do it.
Do you really want to love like Jesus loved?
If you do, then — fast.
It will make a difference.