Currently at our church, the sermon series is spiritual disciplines. We have gone through scripture reading, prayer, and this last Sunday was fasting. This has been a good series because it has made people think and if people take the things that are being talked about and put them into practice, real growth can be made.
Matthew 6: 16-18
When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
What strikes me when I hear or read this verse is the word when. Jesus assumes that we will fast. I have never been very good at fasting, from food. I get very bad headaches when I do not eat regularly, so oftentimes I let this stop me from fasting. However, our minister pointed out that you can fast from many other things besides food.
And it is important to remember that you cannot just go without something, you must supplement it with something else.
He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
Fasting is usually supplemented with prayer. When you think about wanting food for example, that is when you pray. When you are tempted to want whatever you have given up, use that as a reminder to pray.
Another example that was given is you could fast from fast food for a week and use the money that you do not spend to give to the poor. There are many ways to fast. And this is something that I had forgotten.
I wanted to share this with you because this sermon pointed out something I need to do more often. And I am just one of the congregation. If we all act on this it can be an amazing opportunity for growth.
Personal growth almost always leads to growth within the church.