Fasting was done for many reasons religious and not. It was a way to show that something in life had been altered (death, plans, etc) or something needed to change (your life, your relationship with God, etc). Over a period of time the Pharisees made fasting a badge of honor and taught that every good Jew would fast on Monday and Thursday. To them fasting equaled godliness and the more you did it the more godly you were and you wanted to make sure that others recognized how godly you were so you made sure people could know when you fasted.
The original religious purpose of fasting was to give up something that you believed you had to have (food) and when you took it away you would realize that you could live without it but what you couldn’t live without was God. When Jesus was traveling through Samaria in John 4 the disciples went to get food and when they returned they found Jesus talking to a Samaritan woman who brought the whole town out to meet Jesus. They offered him food because he hadn’t had any and he told them that he had food they didn’t know about (4:31) and that it was doing God’s will.
My schedule is pack full of going from one task to the next and filled with so many distractions from reading blogs, facebook, text messaging, talk radio ( I love ESPN radio), and tv at home. Many times I loose my focus on God due to these things. Over the weekend I didn’t watch tv or have the internet because I was at my parents and I was going crazy not checking my messages. But it also allowed me to go out by the creek and set on the dock and meditate and pray. I wouldn’t have done it if they had tv or the net.
We need to return to the practice of fasting. Maybe not the tradition of not eating food but maybe turning off the phone and computer for a day or two. The purpose of fasting is to help us regain control of our life from the things that dominate us. It allows us to realize that the things we think we need are not all that important. It allows us to spend more time with God. The purpose was to help us hunger and thirst for righteousness. Sometimes we spend more time texting than reading the Bible and praying. Sometimes we read blogs, post messages on facebook, and the like and forget to meditate on scripture.
So let me challenge you to unplug for a day and spend the extra time with God and reconnect and remember what it is like to be free of distractions and focused on God.