Competitors crave improved performance. As we grow in this aim we become more intentional with our food choices. When our performance demands increased food intake we add more calories, macronutrients, and make better choices. But many of us have also found fasting to help us perform better as athletes. Intermittent fasting has become a valued trend in the athletic community with its attested benefits. But how does a competitor for Christ approach this discipline? Should we fast? What information does Scripture provide on this subject?
- What nutritional strategies have you found to be helpful in your athletic performance?
- How have you incorporated fasting into your nutritional strategy?
In today’s reading, Jesus is asked directly about His approach to fasting. His response provides His followers with guidance on this subject.
“Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”
We learn at least 3 important principles about fasting from Jesus’ response:
- Followers of Jesus practice fasting as a discipline. Jesus says His disciples “will fast.” In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus describes the appropriate attitude with which we are to fast. As He gives these directions, He simply says, “When you fast…” He does not give us a specific program or a prescribed method, but Jesus does expect His disciples to fast as part of the Christian life.
- Followers of Jesus practice fasting when they experience loss and they crave the Lord’s presence. The metaphor Jesus uses to illustrate His relationship with His followers is described as the wedding feast. In Jewish culture this was a celebratory time when the bridal party would enjoy life along with the bride and groom for an entire week. But, the friends would naturally feel separation and sadness when the experience ended. Scripture reminds us life provides a balance of loss and gain.
“There is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance”
The nutritional strategy of followers of Jesus is formed based upon their relationship with Him. When our hunger for the Lord rises to new levels we may forget to eat, or even choose to intentionally avoid eating.
Fasting is intentionally, or unintentionally, going without food because of a craving for the presence of God and His work through our lives.
- Followers of Jesus celebrate when the Lord is present. Since the Christian life is described as a wedding feast it must be designed to be filled with joy. When the Lord’s mission is being carried out through our lives, we have reason to celebrate. This is what we have been made for! God designed food and drink as one way to celebrate His creation.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Competitors for Christ do not fast simply because it aids in increasing athletic performance. Like everything else in life, the purpose of fasting is to praise God for what He has accomplished through Christ. Competitors crave the presence and power of God in their lives so much, they are compelled to empty themselves of everything else to experience more of Him. So, when you fast, do so because of your relationship with Him.
Why do we fast? Because of Jesus.
Why do we eat? Because of Jesus.
Why do we train? Because of Jesus.
“Everything was created through Him and for Him…He holds all creation together…So He is first in everything.”
- How have you felt distant from the Lord and His power in your life?
- How could prayer and fasting help you draw nearer to Him?
- How have you experienced the presence and power of God in your life?
- How could you celebrate His closeness through eating and training?
- Commit 1 Corinthians 10:31 to memory.