Lent is a great season to practice fasting, and fasting is a great weapon against lust.
What’s the connection? And does it really help?
Adam and Eve ate from the tree that God had forbidden because the serpent convinced them it would give them what they wanted. Since then, all of us have grasped to fill eternal, infinite longings with immediate, finite things. Lust is one example.
Finite things can never fill hunger for what’s infinite. But that’s not the worst of it. The truly bad news is that even though our hungers aren’t satisfied, when we stuff them full with temporal forms of sustenance, we numb ourselves to our deeper hungers, making ourselves feel full when we’re not.
We do this with porn, alcohol, and drugs, or more “harmless” fillers like music, movies, social media, caffeine, pain relievers, work, news, or a million other things. Hunger is God-given. It’s meant to alert us to our needs. When we stuff ourselves with things that do not satisfy, we grow numb to our needs.
This is a dangerous place to be.
Only a hungry person knows to eat, only a thirsty person knows to drink, only a lonely person knows to seek intimacy, only a sick person knows to seek healing, only a sinful person knows to seek mercy.
But where the first Adam’s sin led us to turn from our need, the second Adam, naked and bleeding, cried out from the cross, “I thirst!”
His cry was sincere. He offered it both for himself (he was physically and spiritually thirsty) and also for us. He knew our thirst and cried out on our behalf, uniting our thirst with his own.
Lent invites us to cry in communion: “We thirst!”
Fasting invites us to feel our deeper hungers and thirsts again—perhaps even to discover them for the first time. As we fast, a few things happen for us:
- We begin to recognize that where we have been feeling hunger for food (or thirst for drink, or impulse to pick up our phones, or “need” to unplug by viewing media, or intense desire for sex) has actually been a longing for something much more.
- We begin to find that much of what we thought we could not live without, we can.
- We begin to discover a satisfaction that comes from God that runs deeper than hungers that have otherwise felt so intense.
As you fast during this Lenten season (and I hope you will), turn your hunger into prayer. An old friend of mine taught me a simple way to do this: Whenever I feel hunger pangs (or longings for whatever else I may be fasting from), I turn my heart toward Jesus and pray, “I hunger and thirst for you, Lord.”
Letting yourself feel your hunger and thirst places you in a holy place—in fact, a purely human place—to posture yourself to receive the infinite God you have been seeking all along.
Jesus, give us courage to allow ourselves to hunger and faith to bring our hungers to You.
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Make sure to check out the latest Becoming Whole Podcast for more in-depth discussion on the above topic. Freedom through Fasting