When fasting, we train our bodies to resist its compulsive desires. We don't fast because food is bad, or because entertainment is never a good thing. Instead, we fast as a way of disciplining our minds and bodies to resist temptation, to discover new opportunities to turn to God in prayerful dependence, and to remind ourselves that we are not slaves to our sinful appetites (again, nothing against food!). As a church, we ask you to consider using the season of Lent to practice a fast of some sort: skipping a meal once a week, giving up sweets or caffeine for the whole season, or abstaining from social media or other forms of entertainment. A suggested weekly fast will be included in the Lenten Devotionals, which come out each Sunday morning of Lent.
Our prayer is that fasting, prayer, and reading the Scriptures will allow us to enter a season of increased penitence. As our hearts are prepared to focus on the grace of Jesus' cross, we can joyfully pray that God will turn our hearts toward him in repentance. Notice how Isaiah thinks about his worshipful fasting in connection with his need to repent and live rightly:
Will the fast I choose be like this:
A day for a person to deny himself,
to bow his head like a reed,
and to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast
and a day acceptable to the Lord?
6 Isn’t this the fast I choose:
To break the chains of wickedness,
to untie the ropes of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free,
and to tear off every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
to bring the poor and homeless into your house,
to clothe the naked when you see him,
and not to ignore your own flesh and blood?[b]
8 Then your light will appear like the dawn,
and your recovery will come quickly.
Your righteousness will go before you,
and the Lord’s glory will be your rear guard.
Isaiah 58:5–8 (CSB)
This Lent, let us look closely as the conditions of our hearts. Let us grow closer to God by giving up certainly worldly pleasures, and let us turn toward in him in repentance as we prepare to celebrate the central event of human history—the empty tomb!