Our fasting quote of encouragement today is from yours truly — “Fasting may be difficult, but it is worth it.”
Our fasting devotional today is titled “THE DEADENING EFFECTS OF INNOCENT DELIGHTS” from John Piper, author of the bestselling book “A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer”.
When I say that the root of Christian fasting is the hunger for homesickness for God, I mean that we will do anything and go without anything if, by any means, we might protect ourselves from the deadening effects of innocent delights and preserve the sweet longings of our homesickness for God. Not just food, but anything.
The issue is not food per se. The issue is anything and everything that is, or can be, a substitute for God. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the pastor of Westminster Chapel in London, delivered a great sermon on fasting when he was preaching through the Sermon on the Mount in 1959-1960. In it he said,
“Fasting, if we conceive of it truly, must not be confined to the question of food and drink; fasting should really be made to include abstinence from anything which is legitimate in and of itself for the sake of some special spiritual purpose. There are many bodily functions which are right and normal and perfectly legitimate, but which for special peculiar reasons in certain circumstances should be controlled. That is fasting.”
My assumption so far has been that good things can do great damage. Oxen and fields and marriage can keep you out of the kingdom of heaven. Which is why Jesus says, “No one of you can be my disciple who does not bid farewell to all his own possessions.” Anything can stand in the way of true discipleship—not just evil, and not just food, but anything. Nor should it be surprising that the greatest competitors for our devotion and affection for God would be some of his most precious gifts.