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Fasting can help us to pray. Admittedly, this is a foreign concept to many of us. Whereas the entire ancient world tended to live by collective rhythms of feasting and fasting, we moderns neither fast nor feast. We…gorge. Imagine giving your children a 24/7 all-access pass to a candy shop and telling them they can eat whatever they want whenever they want. They would be constantly sick. And yet, this is precisely the environment in which almost every American adult now lives with regard to their use of the internet, Amazon, fast food, streaming services, and social media. As a result, we’re all constantly sick, at least at the level of our souls, if not also our bodies. 

Fasting interrupts the candy shop mentality. It reintroduces human-shaped rhythms, priorities, and agency. It opens our eyes to see the unseen. Don’t get me wrong. Fasting is no magical fix. It takes time, patience, and discipline—dare I say, suffering—to see its fruit. But the fruit is no less than the ability to see more of God. Here are three quick ways that fasting can help us: 

1. Fasting makes space for God. 

James tells us, “You do not have, because you do not ask” (James 4:2). But why is it that we don’t ask? Oftentimes, we don’t ask, not because we don’t believe in principle that God can give good things, but because we have already found a more convenient solution elsewhere. If we’re feeling tired, we drink another cup of coffee. If we’re feeling lonely, we scroll on social media and fish for “likes.” If we’re haunted by anxiety before bed, we watch Netflix until we forget our worries or grow too tired to keep stewing on them. We do not have, because we already have. Fasting makes capacity. It reintroduces an empty space in our souls, so that God can be the one to fill it. 

2. Fasting interrupts and reorients our unconscious patterns. 

Humans are “orbiting beings.” We are going to revolve around something. It is the gravitational pull of our very souls. You cannot stop us from orbiting any more than you can stop a planet from its rotation. You can only hope to reset it on its proper path around the Sun. Fasting draws our attention to the kinds of things we revolve around, by interrupting certain habits and patterns for a time, so that we can recenter ourselves on the Source. As Richard Foster said, “Fasting shows you what owns you.” 

3. Fasting gives us eyes to see the unseen. 

We live in a world of noise. Fasting doesn’t always erase the noises, but it does expose them for what they are. It removes the veil. When Jesus fasted in the wilderness, he was tempted by Satan. We who follow in his footsteps cannot expect a different outcome. We fast in order to hear from God, and we shall. But when we fast, the demons often speak first. They wait on the threshold of the kingdom of God like gargoyles on the outer walls of cathedrals. Oftentimes we must pass them on our way into the inner sanctuary. But we do not fear. Once we recognize them, they have no power. And we are that much closer to beholding the face of God.

– Ross Byrd

“Fasting is no magical fix. It takes time, patience, and discipline—dare I say, suffering—to see its fruit.”

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