Amanda Lawrence shares how fasting from things she loves helps her feel closer to God.
I enjoy very few simple pleasures in life—coffee tops my list! Fifteen minutes of quiet time in the morning with a cup of coffee always centered me; I began innocently telling myself that my brain wasn’t awake without it. Therein was my problem. I let caffeine become a “need” and allowed it to come before God. That’s unacceptable. I know I’m not alone in slipping and letting daily existence impede prayer. Fasting is a quick way to break that habit!
The primary purpose of any fast is to draw closer to God. The Bible encourages fasting in many circumstances. Jesus mentions fasting in Matthew 6:16. Note how Jesus says: “when you fast,” not if.
I began 2022 with a coffee fast that felt prompted by God. My goal was spiritual growth. I promised to go as long as He wanted. On New Year’s Day, I traded my morning coffee for a mug of black tea blended with an adaptogenic mushroom powder mix and proceeded with this alternative routine for about two weeks.
During that fast, I put God before everything else. I habitually reviewed the Daily Readings (sometimes more than once) and meditated on them before getting out of bed. My brain, admittedly a little sluggish, worked just fine, though. My abstinence ended sixteen days later when I accidentally poured coffee, not hot water, over my morning tea. I took that as a sign of a successful fast and drank my hybrid brew.
Recently, while contemplating the gift of Advent, I noticed my caffeine intake creeping from one cup in the morning to two or three cups by mid-afternoon. The slope of overindulgence is slippery; I knew I wanted to cut back again once I realized I was sliding down it. Spending more time in prayer is also excellent Advent preparation, so I began fasting from excess.
Food isn't the only thing to abstain from! Are you devoting too much time to social media? Watching too much TV? Have you become dependent on online shopping? Maybe you overindulge in coffee? A healthy way to strengthen your relationship with God is to give up these habits. Gorging on anything can have unhealthy side effects like anxiety, addiction, jealousy, or a lack of self-control. Alleviate those ailments with a fast.
Fasting from habitual actions means stopping them for a specific time. The idea is to replace the hours spent on those activities with God! Refrain from any online shopping. Avoid using all forms of social media. Or trade your morning coffee for scripture and tea, like me!
If a total fast seems too intimidating, maybe a partial fast makes more sense! Give up social media, shopping, or television only on the weekends, after 5 in the evening, or on certain days of the week. Focus on God during those hours to ensure your partial fast still reaps some benefits!
Remember, the biblical purpose of fasting is to seek God.
I choose to fast whenever I’m prompted or seeking clarity on a particular decision or area in my life. I hear God more clearly when I eliminate noise, wants, and distractions. When deciding to fast, it’s important to pray first. Set simple goals to ensure your heart stays in the right place. Ask God how long it should last to reap the spiritual benefits:
- One day
- Two weeks
- Forty days
Whenever you notice your attention is focused too much on activities other than God, that’s an excellent occasion to pursue a more palatable fruit. Before beginning any fast, it’s important to pray and ensure this is something you feel called to do. Doing anything for the wrong reasons will probably lead to discouragement. When spending more time with God is the goal, you will get the most out of your fast. Abstaining from habitual activities you love is a good thing. This Advent, I encourage you to remember that life is about choices. Ponder where yours are leading you and if you are making them for the right reasons.
Have a blessed Advent season! I’m praying for you all.
Copyright 2022 Amanda Lawrence
Images: (top) Canva; (center) copyright 2022 Amanda Lawrence, all rights reserved.
About the Author
Amanda Lawrence is a cradle Catholic, mother, librarian, writer, and speaker. She lives in her own little slice of Heaven on the coast of Massachusetts with her son and dog. She hopes to make disciples through wisdom, truth, and her service to God.