As a young adult, I try to analyze my life from time to time, weighing the pros and cons of where I want to be versus where I presently reside. Exploring Master’s programs, looking at job options, and dreaming about my wedding, I pray to have someday, for instance, are just a few of the thoughts in this tumbled brain. Within this arrangement of studies, many friends have asked me questions like, “Why am I still single,” “How do I stay in shape,” “How do I grow closer to God,” and “What’s the best way to stop worrying?”
While I do not know the concrete answer to each of these questions, one common trend that has helped me significantly in resolution is fasting, just not in the way you might think! In high school, I started fasting from things like sugar or decadent treats, but as I’ve grown and matured in my faith, I’ve learned that fasting is less about food and more about the purpose behind our itemization.
From Wednesday, February 17th, 2021, to Saturday, April 3rd, 2021, religious seekers worldwide participate in 40 days of Lent to commemorate Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection from the grave. However, what was traditionally celebrated as a time from fasting from food or drinks has now developed into a more profound communion time for many.
How are you planning to fast this year for Lent? I would suggest three different fasts to consider as you’re preparing your heart, mind, and soul for service to Lord.
1) Social Media
While I do not struggle with social media as much as I did as a teenager, it is a 21st-century facade that convinces people to be in the here and now without actually being present.
Over the summer, I visited the beautiful Smokie Mountains in all their splendor. From getting chased by a Grizzley Bear to holding hands with my boyfriend as we stood in awe of God’s creation, I was in wonder of this world. But as I looked around me, I was startled by the number of people glued to their phones, filming the scenes like production crews, and heads down in anticipation of the perfect #snapchat filter. And before I knew it, even my boyfriend and I were guilty of the crime I’d convicted others.
This Lenten season, might I encourage you to fast from social media to feast on that One who deserves your undivided attention? Even outside of Lent, I have committed to staying off my phone when I am around others, and doesn’t God deserve the same attention?
While social media is not bad, I believe that we will learn to value the people beside us rather than across a screen through a period without it. Although COVID-19 has made in-person sessions difficult, even merely focusing on that person’s Zoom conversation and not your tabs, messages, and Pinterest feed while talking to them can make all the difference.
Over the next Lenten period, be amazed at how much time you have to not only focus on your Creator but those He’s loving placed around you.
In Ephesians 5:16 and 1 Corinthians 10:23, the ESV puts it this way: “Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil,” “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.”
Make the best use of your time, and make sure that the investments you’re pouring into are lawful practices working towards eternal rewards.
2) Control and Worry
Unlike social media, control and worry are two sides of the same coin that I struggle with today. Overwhelming our minds to the point of exhaustion, what better way to grow in your faith than to ask God to help you fast from control and worry over the next 40 days?
As someone who has struggled with power and anxiety from an early age, I understand that these concepts are not as physical and handheld to give up as, say, food or an activity. In fact, I would honestly say that they are difficult elements to give up because, like Christ, they are nontangible items sitting in our hearts. But while Christ resides peace within, worry and control rob us of freedom.
Through Christ, you can work on giving up worry and control. The process will not happen overnight, but the growth Christ can propel in you through dedication, heart, and service to Him will be far worth the struggle and fight.
In John 14:26 of the ESV, Scripture reminds us that all things are possible with Christ. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
“Cast all of your anxieties on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7, ESV).
3) Noise and Distractions
Finally, if you’re looking for an extra challenging fast to consider this Lenten season, consider making room in your schedule for quiet.
While it may sound contradictory and quite faint to the noise and distractions of this world, fasting from such things will enable you to hear the Lord more clearly and deepen your relationship with Him.
Romans 12:2 of the ESV tells us to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Everywhere you look, people are busy. Running and rushing around to the latest event, commitment, yoga class, or trip, society is numb to the concept that involvement does not equal happiness, nor does Christian preoccupation equal a relationship with God.
In college, I was the queen of schedules and responsibility. With a color-coded calendar of at least ten shades of the rainbow, I lived this way for five years and didn’t mind it. Since graduating college, however, it has not been until entering young adulthood that I realized what free time, space, and less busyness could do for my relationship with God.
While I understand that seasons of busyness will exist, and having a schedule is not wrong, I want to encourage you today to seek the Lord while He may be found, even if it’s merely in the quietness of your drive to work or five minutes spent in prayer on the floor.
If we expect God to speak to us, we have to be willing to listen and to hear, we have to get accustomed to the silence.
Let Psalm 46:10 and 62:5 be our prayers today:
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.”