Open Your Bible
Isaiah 58:3-7, Luke 4:1-4, Matthew 6:16-18, Matthew 9:14-17, John 4:31-38, John 6:48-51, Revelation 19:6-10
“Don’t fill up on bread,” I warn myself when dining out. Then my waiter brings a basket of freshly baked rolls, glistening with melted butter, and I forget my earlier caution. A blended aroma of honey, vanilla, and yeast drifts under my nose, as I raise the bread to my mouth. One bite into the warm, pillowy dough and my eyes nearly roll back. As my taste buds savor the last bite, I discover that I am full.
God has given us food to both enjoy and sustain our bodies. But at times He calls us away from our daily sustenance so we can more fully engage with Him. This is especially challenging for me, a self-proclaimed foodie who relishes restaurant menus like they’re “hot off the press” bestsellers. However, I answer God’s call, metaphorically turning my plate over because I desire continued spiritual growth.
For the last three years, my church community has fasted once a month for twenty-four-hour intervals. Fasting is not a punishment inflicted on our bodies or a measure of our piety. Instead, God invites us as believers to give up something that is good for something even greater. We step away from the rhythms of our routines to pay more attention to His Word, deepening our relationship with Him.
The Gospels record Jesus’s forty-day stay in the wilderness, where He spent time alone with God and prepared for ministry through prayer and fasting. When Satan challenged Him to satisfy His hunger supernaturally, Jesus refused. Instead, He demonstrated His dependence on God with these words: “Man must not live on bread alone” (Luke 4:4).
When I fast, I agree with Jesus and recognize God as the ultimate source of both my physical and spiritual needs. Like our Savior did, I communicate my desire for the fulfillment of God’s will by positioning myself to be in fellowship with Him, without distractions (Luke 4:1). And when I do, He fills my heart and satisfies my soul in ways that physical food and earthly activities cannot (John 6:51).
It may seem counterintuitive, but when we regularly abstain from certain habits to pursue God, He refreshes us and refuels our passion for serving Him. We also grow more aware of the Spirit’s presence and more readily approach God in humility, relying on His strength to overcome sin in our lives.
What are the things that compete for our undivided attention above God? Is it social media or television? How about our smartphones or the time we invest in our relationships? Perhaps food is the culprit. Whatever the distraction, Jesus calls us to focus less on things that bring temporary fulfillment and more on Him, the true Bread of Life (John 6:48–50). He has many good things in store for us—things far more satisfying than any activity and better than the most delicious bread.