Fasting. What is it and why would I want to teach my children to fast? Fasting has a long history in the Bible. Let me rehearse a little bit of it: Moses before receiving the 10 commandments (Exodus 24:18), David praying for his child (2Samuel 12:16), Elijah for 40 days (1Kings 19:8), and Christ in the Desert (Matthew 4:2). Furthermore, all Israel was called to fast on the day of Atonement in Leviticus 23:26-32. Literally they are “to deny” themselves, everything in life is to be removed in order to focus upon God and the offering for sin that is being made.
This is a great place to start in training our children in regards to fasting. The fast is a means of focussing upon God and his gift of Christ. In order to fast, we can give up more than food and water, in fact, I would never recommend having your children fast, although teens could engage this aspect without much difficulty. (Please, consult your family doctor first.) But are food and water the best things to fast from in our culture?
I would say, “No.” They are important, but even more than food and water, our culture is addicted to media in its many forms – blogs, music, video, gaming, texting. Maybe we should be training our children to abstain from media for periods of time in order to reflect on Christ and Christ alone, not the next vibration of the phone.
Jesus assumed that we would be people who fast. In Matthew 6:16 he says, “When you fast…” not “if you fast.” When! We are to fast and focus upon God and his sacrifice. One of the ways that I determine what to fast from is by looking at my life and asking the question, “To what am I addicted?” or “What can I not live without?” These same questions can help children to reflect on the barriers that are interfering with their own relationship with God.
I hope that as parents, we will engage our children in this act of focusing on God and giving them a foundation and tools for living a successful Live devoted to God as they grow up.