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Living in Solidarity: Fasting

September 24, 2009

3802915751_aa97b07666“Fast one meal each week until Christmas for the two billion people who live on less than a dollar a day” –Asbury Reader (Fall 2009), p. 17

“This is the kind of fast I’m after:
To break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
cancel debts.
What I’m interested in seeing you do is this:
sharing your food with the hungry…”
Isaiah 58

I’ve been thinking, recently, about some tangible ways in which as a follower of Christ, I could take my beliefs beyond the area of the mental, and into the “real” world.  If the kingdom of God is here now, and the Church is a vital expression of God’s kingdom, then what can we do to show the heart of God to people?

I have to start small.    I’m not a giant of faith.  The above quote  impacted me recently, because I believe it gives a solid way to live out faith.  Fasting.  We normally think of fasting as some spiritual exercise to make our prayers more effective.  And I think it does.  But I think it can be so much more.  If the Christ-centered life means an “others-centered” life then fasting can take on a whole new element.

Here’s my thought.  What if we fast one meal a week ( Remember start small!)?  In this fast, we are doing three important things.

  1. We are denying our appetites, so that we may feel what it’s like to be hungry.  40 million people are starving, and do not have the choice.  We do.
  2. We are living in solidarity with all of those people.  We are saying, “We know you’re hungry…for this meal, we will be hungry with you, and we will pray for you that God would give you nourishment.”  And then we pray—and we implore God to feed those who are hungry.  And then we hear His reply:  “You give them something to eat” (Matt. 4: 16).
  3. We take $3 and set it aside.  Three dollars would be the average of what we might spend on any meal.  Most meals cost more, but if we were eating at home, this might be the average amount that we would spend.  We put this $3 away once a week until Christmas.  Then we find an organization that feeds the poor.  World Vision or Compassion International are two that come to mind.  And we give them this money, so that they can feed those who are hungry.

Now our fast has become something tangible and real.  We certainly pray for our own needs and the needs of our family and friends.  God cares about that too.  But we realize that we have been blessed far beyond measure, and so we live for others who are waiting for the people of God to show them God.

Imagine if 500 people did this.  Imagine if 5,000 people did this.  Imagine if this became a movement, and 500,000 people did this.  Imagine if the entire Church did this.  Imagine if we didn’t do this from now until Christmas, but every week of the year.  People who are hungry, would not be hungry any more.

If this impacts you then do two things:  practice fasting, and take this idea (or any similar idea) to your church.  Let’s start a movement of living in solidarity.

Blessings.

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. September 24, 2009 1:56

    Awesome post. Couldn’t agree more.

  2. jonathangroover permalink*
    September 24, 2009 2:05

    Thanks Matt! Let’s do it! 🙂

  3. September 25, 2009 12:44

    Jon, this post impacts me personally. I’ve been thinking a lot about poor people and starving children lately. Partly because I’ve been exposed to a few movies about the war-torn Africa. Though I work at Compassion, mustering courage to do something for these children and adults tangibly IS a challenge. So thank you. Let’s do it! 🙂

    P.S. I heard Ja’s gonna visit you. That’s awesome, man!

    • jonathangroover permalink*
      September 28, 2009 8:28

      Mink, you are right in the middle of the action. 🙂 I think it’s great that you work for such an awesome ministry. I like this fasting idea, because everyone can do it! Thanks for reading. 🙂

  4. September 29, 2009 6:32

    Great post Jonathan. For my class now, we are required to fast at least two different times, and the fasts can be different kinds of fasts, not just food. So my questsion for you is, are you going to start practicing fasting regularly? How will this impact your spiritual walk?

    I have a book you might be interested in reading, it examines a number of different Biblical fasts, by Dr. Elmer Towns. If you check out his website (www.elmertowns.com), I believe there is a digital copy you can download.

    Anyway, great thoughts as always… I have been meaning to give you a call, and thought of you recently, but life is so busy, let’s talk soon!

    • jonathangroover permalink*
      September 30, 2009 11:03

      Hey Meridith! I do plan on fasting one meal and placing the three dollars aside. My small group is also going to do it, and we will take the money and give it to World Vision this Christmas. Pass the word. I just keep thinking, if every church did this, it could be huge!! I will check out that book. How are your classes going? Life definitely is busy, but it would be nice to catch up!

  5. Matt permalink
    October 5, 2009 12:19

    You should try to distribute this…

    • jonathangroover permalink*
      October 5, 2009 11:00

      My small group is doing it now…and I’ve given it to a few people to share at their churches. I’m telling you, it’s a simple thing that could be huge! Ya know? I pray that the church will get a hold of simple ways to make a profound impact.

  6. Amanda J permalink
    October 15, 2009 7:05

    Ok. I read your post. I see this area of fasting (and praying) like arm extensions. Let me explain. Yes I agree fasting and praying is a spiritual act (more spiritual than mental when done properly). When fasting, I allow God access to a deeper part of me which will induce spiritual transformation in areas of my life that need “fixing”.

    I always saw Isaiah 58 more as an individual spiritual work than an actual physical ministry as you are describing. With this revelation in fasting and praying, we exercise ourselves spiritually in the things of God, while also considering and ministering to the needs of others. The merciful hand of God is being extened towards us and through us to serve others. I love it!

    This “extension” of fasting and praying, does not allow anything to go to waste. Our God is not wasteful. If everything He does is purposeful (every word He speaks not returing to him void or empty, but accomplishing what it is sent out to do), why would I waste a meal or two?

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, I won’t limit the Holy Spirit to who can benefit or be blessed from such a fast “of the Lord”. I have a passion for ministering to abused children, those who feel as if they don’t have a voice, victims of violence and abuse (sexual, physcial verbal and mental). I can go a step further than prayer and intercession, into combining a spiritual work with a tangible substance. I commit this unto the Lord and I’m anticipating to see where he takes this.

    • jonathangroover permalink*
      October 15, 2009 9:46

      Thanks for commenting Amanda! Blessings on your desire to help victims of violence. They are the objects of God’s mercy as well.

  7. Bill permalink
    November 24, 2009 11:16

    I love this post Jonathan. I especially love, “Imagine if the entire Church did this. Imagine if we didn’t do this from now until Christmas, but every week of the year. People who are hungry, would not be hungry any more.”

    Let’s do it.

  8. Bill permalink
    November 24, 2009 11:29

    Another thought: this reminds me of something Rob Bell says in one of the NOOMA videos: “Don’t pray for God to feed the hungry when you have plenty of food.”

    • jonathangroover permalink*
      November 25, 2009 10:28

      Bill! I miss having you in class! 🙂 What are you taking this semester?? Thanks for stopping by the blog; the fasting blog is one I’m very passionate about. Shoot me an email on the campus email and let me know what’s up! Oh, and I agree with Bell completely; Wesley said something very similar (although I cannot recall the source at the moment).

  9. February 25, 2010 5:39

    This is powerful, man! Let’s bring this attitude to Titletown, what’cha say?

    • jonathangroover permalink*
      February 26, 2010 9:13

      I say “Let’s get ‘er done!” 🙂

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