The Motive of Fasting

April 7
Matthew 6:16–18

But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret.
Illustration by Gustave Doré

Illustration by Gustave Doré

It is so easy to do the right thing for the wrong reason. This is especially true when it comes to religious action. For many of us, we are pharisees deep down. We know that we should be serving God, but we really want others to see us do things for God. This can especially be true for seasons like Lent. We pray more, fast, or give during Lent so people will make sure they know we are religious. Jesus is adamantly against this. In Matthew 6, Jesus’s focus is not whether people fast or how they fast but why they fast. Jesus tells us we should keep our fasting private. In fact, we should act as though we’re not fasting. We’re fasting not to be seen by others but to be seen by God. We’re fasting to grow closer to the Lord, not to earn religious accolades.

When was the last time you fasted? Perhaps you’ve never fasted. Now would be a great time to begin. When was the last time you fasted with few to none knowing about it? It can be a good thing to let a select few in on your fasting so they can hold you accountable and encourage you. But fight to tell as few people as possible. Fast for the Lord and the Lord alone. Lent is a season dedicated to fasting. If you aren’t fasting yet, start soon. Maybe you need to begin with something simple, like fasting from television or social media. Maybe you can fast from one meal a few days a week. Good Friday is approaching. Consider fasting from Good Friday to Easter. Why? Not to be seen by others but to focus on the Lord!

Reflection

  1. If you’ve never fasted before, what’s holding you back from trying?
  2. Do you struggle to fast for all the wrong reasons?
  3. How can you fast and fight the temptation to be grumpy, angry, or frustrated because of fasting?