Summary: Fasting is feasting on God in prayer
Feasting on God in Prayer
"Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: "When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me--for Me?
(Zechariah 7:5 NKJV)
Heike and I have been at a few weddings in the last year. One wedding we went to was on my birthday. I like weddings here in Germany. There are some similarities, but the Germans do more on the wedding day. It really is a festival with the ceremony, and then coffee and cake, a couple of games for the guests and then a big huge meal. The meals is always well made. In essence a feast is prepared.
We went to this wedding and after the ceremonies, we went to a hall to have the coffee and cake. The program started and it was really good. Then half-way through the program these little children came into the room shouting: “Wo ist Jim, wo is Jim?” They were singing “Where is Jim?” - I thought to myself: “What kind of song is this?” Then I realized that they had a birthday cake prepared. I was so embarrassed. I told the bride and groom that it was their special day. They said that it was my birthday.
So they set the cake before me. But the kids were close, I couldn’t really move. So I tried to blow out the candles, when “Poof” one of the girl’s dresses caught on fire. So immediately someone came and stopped the fire on the poor girl’s arm sleeve.
How embarrassing is that? You go to someone’s wedding, and when the bride and groom try to do something for you, it turns it to a fire accident. The girl’s dress goes up in flames and she had some slight burn on her arm for a week. But the food was good. The ceremony was nice. The wedding was great and unforgettable. This experience describes the idea of a feast very well. Laughter, good food, good friends, even surprises that are never dull. That is the meaning of a feast.
When someone has a feast, they literally stuff themselves full of good food. When you participate in a feast, you are taking time to ENJOY the time you have set aside for yourself. You enjoy a good meal, you enjoy good music, you enjoy good friends, and you basically enjoy a good time. It lifts you up and after the feast you are completely satisfied.
You have feasted. It is an enjoyable experience and your body shows it. Your body starts to digest more food. Your mouth starts to hum or whistle the good music you heard, and you reflect on your conversations and experiences during the feast.
Fasting is feasting on God in prayer.
The problem in Zechariah’s time is that the people fasted for themselves. They cried, they mourned, they stopped eating because they were so focused on their own problems that they begged God to help them.
One one hand, they cried to God to help them in their distress. On the other hand, they pleaded with God out of fear. They feared His judgment. Why? Just as God said, they were not feasting on God. They were thinking about what they could get out of their prayer time.
Prayer times can often be this way. Gimme, Gimme, Gimme. I need this, and I need that. So God, you owe me and I need your help. The focus of the prayer time is often on yourself.
God doesn’t want you to fast like that.
Sometimes, we fast from food, or something that we crave for a couple of days because it makes us look good with other people. Someone asks you: “What are fasting from?” You tell them - "I am not going to eat chocolate." Of course that doesn’t stop you from eating other sweets, and it isn’t really a fast. You are just showing off. You are displaying your spirituality to the world.
But what about God? This is God’s point.
Did you really fast for Me--for Me?
For whom did you fast? Was it for yourself, for your spiritual self-esteem? Did you do it for someone else? God says: Do it for Me.
Fasting needs to be feasting on God in prayer.
The question is one that Christians ask quite often. They ask themselves, just as the people in the time of Zechariah asked themselves:
Should I fast?
In reality, everyone fasts at least once a day. You have just fasted last night before you ate breakfast. This is the meaning of the word breakfast (to break the fast). You have slept all night and now to break your fast, you eat a small meal.