Fasting and Abundance
I can fast today because I can trust God for tomorrow.
Jesus’ instructions on prayer are followed by some of His instructions on fasting. This is interesting since fasting is about not eating, and part of the Lord’s Prayer is about the need to eat. How do they connect?
In his teaching both on prayer and fasting, the Lord is emphasizing authenticity above ostentation and genuine joy above theatrical sadness. In Matthew chapter six, Jesus admonishes His followers not to draw dark lines on their cheeks and under their eyes when they fast so others will see what a disfiguring sacrifice their self-denial is. Instead, He says fasting should be joyful, a wonderful encounter with a providential God who can be trusted for tomorrow as well as today.
What is the real appeal of “all you can eat” restaurants? The signs on such places speak to a poverty mentality. You will seldom see millionaires eating at all-you-can-eat buffets. The person with a poverty mentality says to himself, “I have to eat all I can today because I do not know for sure if I will eat tomorrow.” They may not be poor at all, and this fear may be totally irrational. It is fear that makes folks think with a poverty mind-set. Furthermore, they have a poverty view of “worth” or “value.” They say to themselves, “I have paid for this and I am going to get my money’s worth if it kills me, literally.”
The prosperous seldom eat in such places. They do not doubt whether they will eat tomorrow. In fact, they are confident they will eat every day. Perhaps this is because they trust in their money, which can, in fact, be gone in a moment. In other words, even though their confidence is misplaced, they live with an abundance mind-set. The believer with the mind-set of abundance says, “I do not have to eat all I can today because I can trust God for tomorrow just as I do today.”
Carrying that forward, I can fast today because I can trust God for tomorrow. Therefore, fasting is not an onerous, burdensome obligation that mars my face and my soul. That attitude can quickly devolve into sour worship. That is why Jesus said to wash your face. We can fast with joyful faith, rejoicing in a heightened sensitivity to His presence today and confident of His providence tomorrow.
That is the wonderful balance of “daily bread.” I do not have to gorge myself in fear of going without tomorrow because “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.” I am not some concentration camp escapee clutching a crust of bread for comfort in the dark. Neither must I descend into the chronic ingratitude of those Western spoiled brats who, believing they deserve everything, cannot be grateful for daily bread.
“Thy will be done” is a statement of contentment with place.
“Daily bread” is a statement of contentment with possessions.