Today, the youth ministry at my church is fasting all day in preparation for an event tonight that involves 6 hours of INTENSE bible study known as Secret Church, led by Birmingham pastor David Platt. A number of adults in our church have also committed to fast today, praying for our students. It is a beautiful thing to see students denying themselves in pursuit of God, and even more beautiful to hear of others who are denying themselves on the behalf of those students. I am praying for both the students and those joining them today, and I thought of a passage from C.S. Lewis that applies to the spiritual practice of fasting. I want to share it with you to keep you focused as you fast.
The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are halfhearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
As you fast, do it in order to remind yourself how temporal and short lived our pleasures are on this earth. No pleasure – no matter how great, necessary, or satisfying will satisfy as the Living Water and Bread of Life. Christ will be the satisfaction of all desires when we greet Him in heaven. Your denial of satisfaction today is a symbolic gesture, a tip of your hat, to the reality that Christ is our sustenance.
For today make God the Father, who is Himself the end of all desires, the focus of your desire. For just one day, be tough to please.