I am writing this in the midst of A.S.K., a time when our church sets aside time to seek God, taking Him up on His promise that if we ask, He will give us his Holy Spirit (see Luke 11:5-12). Part of A.S.K. is a call to fast, and I am hoping that most of you are refraining from some form of media and/or other physical appetite. But this raises the question: Why? What good can come from intentionally depriving oneself of a habit or luxury? Furthermore, what does this have to do with our life with God?
Rather than give an apologetic for the value of fasting, I want to challenge you to answer the question for yourself. Pay attention to what is happening in your soul as you deny your craving. What is it you want when you check social media or watch Netflix — to check up on friends, entertainment, or maybe just fill the boredom of the moment? Is there something more you are looking for or avoiding? What about your craving for sugar or caffeine or that special treat? How much of your desire is truly met by the thing? Be warned, it can be difficult to tease out what is driving our appetites. Yet, I contend this is essential work for spiritual growth.
I am reminded of what the prophet Isaiah wrote:
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,