Lenten Reflection 2012: Retreating into the wilderness with Jesus, Day 10

Day 10, Saturday, March 3, 2012

Jesus’ prayer in the wilderness was accompanied by fasting (Matthew 4:1-4). He gave up eating for forty days and forty nights in keeping with the traditional significance of the number forty in the Bible. Several important events in the life of Israelites happened in forty days beginning with the time of Noah (see Genesis 7:12; 8:6) to Moses (see Exodus 24:18), and finally, to the time of Prophet Jonah (see Jonah 3:4). The number 40 appears about 146 times in the Bible. Most often it symbolizes trial, testing, and/or probation of God’s people. Jesus set an example by fasting that we might follow in His steps. Along with prayer, fasting is one of the best spiritual disciplines one can nurture not only during the Lent but also as a regular practice. Like prayer, fasting teaches dependence on God and fortifies us spiritually to face the temptations of the devil. Fasting also makes it easier for us to listen to the voice of the Lord. Many believers, therefore, give up eating certain kinds of foods or meat altogether or partly during Lent. Some give up drinking alcohol or other beverages. In today’s culture where gluttony is not a sin anymore, we often sit down to eat and drink even when we are not hungry. In eating and drinking in this way, we tend to waste a lot of food, which is also not reckoned a sin anymore in spite of Jesus’ example of picking up the leftovers (see Luke 9:17). Let us give up eating and drinking out of just habit. And let us start honoring God and glorifying Him even in our bodies, as Apostle Paul says in I Corinthians 10:31 (RSV): “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Moreover, what we often fail to recognize is that fasting shouldn’t be limited to just giving up certain foods and drinks. Since the purpose of Lenten fasting is spiritual and it should bring us closer to God, then, we should also be ready to give up a few other major things during the Lent. Some of them could be: our annual vacation, eating out often, superiority complex, our enemies, and inner desire to control stuff and people, slavery to time/goals/planning, unstated wish to be popular, narcissism, and so on. This list could go on and on, and I know it’s easier for many of us to give up food than to give up one of these things listed above. But if our purpose is to glorify God, and if we determined with prayer to surrender such things at God’s feet, He will strengthen us as He did His Son—Jesus Christ. Amen.

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