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Monday, February 15, 2016

Why Do We Fast? (2 of 3)

“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: 'he will send is angels to guard you' and 'they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.' But Jesus said, 'it is also written, you shall not tempt the Lord your God.'”


This exchange exposes a false reason for fasting: to manipulate God. We do not fast in order to force God to do our will or to manifest himself. This is a pagan attitude: “If I do x, y, and z, then God will give me what I want.” This is not worship, prayer, or sacrifice. It is the exact opposite. Instead of acknowledging God’s sovereignty and our need for him, we try to strong arm him. Rather than adoring, praising, surrendering and trusting, we try to force him to conform to our desires.
Such an attitude towards fasting exposes a misconception of God. God is not a cruel tyrant who needs to be pleased nor a vengeful judge whose thirst for justice must be sated. He doesn’t sit in heaven with his arms crossed, saying “you haven’t paid your
dues, so I’m not answering your prayers.” On the contrary, God is a loving Father who desires to give good things to his children. We don’t have to beg him. We just have to open our hearts to him, which is a lot harder than it sounds. Fasting helps us to do just that by emptying our hearts of things which distract us from God.
But isn’t there such a thing as intercessory fasting? Yes, absolutely. But when we fast for an intention, it’s not to manipulate God or trick him into giving us what we want. Rather, we unite our hunger to the offering of Jesus on the cross, which has obtained all things for us. Like Christ, we humbly offer ourselves to the Father, trusting in his will for us. We pray with Jesus, “not as I will, but as you will.” The closer we conform to Christ on the cross, the more our prayer becomes his and thus the more we obtain what we desire, because we desire what the Father desires, which is always the best for us.
+ Br. Ignatius Pio Mariae, CFR
Comayagua, Honduras
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