Our beautiful church held a day of prayer and fasting this week--it was a powerful time of focused intercession for a couple of significant issues in our body. As our family drove to prayer meeting that night, Steve reflected on his fast.
He remarked that while he was busy at work, it wasn't all that difficult--his mind was occupied and there was no food in sight (or smell). The hardest part, he said, was when he came home and made PB&Js for the boys at suppertime. To see the strawberry-rhubarb jam, to smell the peanut butter as he spread it thickly on homemade bread...peanut butter and jelly sandwiches never sounded so good.
We talked about the realities of fasting and the spiritual parallels. Physical hunger comes quickly, automatically, after such a short time without food. Why is it that we can go not only hours, but days without spiritual food, and not feel those pangs, that longing?
I've heard that when you fast for a longer period of time--like 40 days--the first week is actually the hardest. If you can get through those initial excruciating days of hunger, after a while, you're not hungry anymore. Is that where we are so often? Our souls are so used to being deprived of regular spiritual sustenance that we've lost our appetites?
There can be plenty of reasons we're not spiritually hungry, plenty of other angles to explore here. But Steve and I circled back around to his experience making sandwiches and wondered: Is there a way to get close to spiritual food in order to stir your senses and stimulate your appetite? How can you expose yourself to the Bread of Life in such a way that you realize you're actually starving?
When you're busy and you're not around food, you can forget that you're
hungry. But when you smell a feast, when you watch others filling their
bellies with delicious fare, you start to salivate. You want what
In other words, I think this points to the importance of community and the body of Christ. When you're not hungry for God and His Word, perhaps one of the best things you can do is rub shoulders with those who are feasting. You spend time with people who smell like food, people who tell you about their last meal in great detail, people who describe with relish their favorite foods and what they plan to eat next. You watch others around you savoring the Bread of Life, and your soul starts to ache. You want what they have. And if you're hungry--it's yours for the feasting.