As I enjoy my Sunday afternoon with a cup of coffee and the Redskins-Giants game in the background, I think I have officially come to terms with the fact that summer is over. School is back in session, new projects are on the docket at work, and the quickly shortening days reinforce the reality of autumn. Somehow this time of year always seems like a fresh start to me. That could also be a sign I’ve spent too many years in school.
In any case, with fresh starts come the chance to reevaluate life, including our Monday fastpray routine. I wanted to start with three not-so-great underlying reasons for fasting on Mondays:
- To establish my superior state of singleness and/or piety. Fasting and praying is not proof that I have come so far in my journey; it is proof that I am deeply broken by sin and am deeply needy for God’s grace.
- To eat a big dinner. At the risk of stating the obvious, abstaining from food (or facebook or whatever we’re fasting from) is not the point. If Mondays become simply an exercise in willpower, I have missed the entire point of learning dependence on Christ’s strength.
- To avoid engaging with my reality. If I fast so I don’t have to spend more time with my annoying coworkers or because it’s easier to not eat than face the pain in my heart, I’ve also really missed the point. Spiritual disciplines should not be defense mechanisms but doorways to the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
True confession: I have occasionally used one or all of these reasons for my Monday fasting practice. As I start this new season, although I am more aware of my deep sinfulness, I am also more confident that “He who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion.”
And that, really, is the bigger context for all of our journeys. We struggle with hope and waiting specifically in our current state of singleness, but the bottom line is always the gospel of Jesus Christ. Mondays are an opportunity to remind ourselves of that truth by coming with our wayward hearts, casting our cares on the One who gave Himself for us, and trusting that He, in His sovereignty, has already and will continue to “work all things together for good.”