Fasting Is About Feasting
By |   March 18, 2011 |   in Lent, Spiritual Practices

Fasting is all about feasting.

That thought was new to me.  It helps with how I enter into practices of the Lent season.  It isn’t what I give up that matters (although I always do give up something) as much as what I indulge in that makes Lent meaningful.

Lent is not so much about what you are “giving up ” or avoiding something you enjoy in order to feel miserable (because God somehow is pleased with us being miserable). The abstaining is about making room for indulging or feasting on the good things of the Kingdom of God. So, all the fasting is for indulging more in good things, like prayer and almsgiving. And the desired result is not just a seasonal increase of activity that wanes after Lent, but for deeper character for every day of the year.

Growing up in your average Evangelical church in the ’60s and ’70s, we didn’t celebrate a bunch of days, months or seasons, like Advent in November and December, or Lent in February and March or April—that was what the religious, “works-salvation” types, were about.  We had “grace” and were free of all that.

We only celebrated two days. Christmas Day and Easter Day.  Everything else was just, well, ”ordinary” or life as usual.

What else did you need?

(Thankfully there were other holidays a “born again” kid could enjoy—New Years Eve and Day, Memorial Day, the 4th of July, Labor Day, Halloween, and the best one, the anti-Lent: Thanksgiving.)

All our “salvation” (getting into heaven) required was Jesus’ birthday and the day that made possible your own “spiritual birthday,” the day you were “born again” and your destiny settled.

But as my understanding of salvation began to be more than just getting into heaven when I die, but about my life here and now, I became intrigued with the seasons of Advent and Lent.  They became sacred time and space to enter into and know more of heavenly life now.

So one Lent season, I decided to fast from “judging others” which mostly meant, giving everyone much more of the benefit of the doubt than usual.   And that was quite a challenge since I was an Executive Pastor who supervised others. I didn’t give up my job—I still had to manage those responsible to me. But in my fasting I found out how much room I had allowed for prejudice and presumption in my views of others and their behaviors and more importantly, their motives.

That Lent season took me further into being more of becoming a merciful person. And according to Luke’s gospel, that is becoming more like my Father in Heaven.

Join the Conversation

What is your fasting, the things you are giving up, working in your life for indulging in Kingdom feasting?

What good things are you enjoying more as a result of your Lent practices?

Keith Meyer:
Keith Meyer coaches pastors, leads staff retreats and can be contacted at keithmeyer.org. He is the author of Whole Life Transformation: Becoming the Change Your Church Needs.
  • alice

    I read some Henri Nouwen and was inspired to give up “being offended” for Lent. Failed a bit on a Spring Break trip with both my teenagers, who love to offend me … but in general this is needed and good fast for me. Could be life-changing, really.

  • Shelley Johnson

    Hi Keith, remember me – Open Door attendee, now Denver Sem student… it’s been awhile since you and I have crossed paths. Good to see you on here.

    Love Alice’s giving up “being offended” for Lent.

    Like you, as an evangelical, I never “gave anything up” for Lent until being a student at Denver Sem starting five years ago. For the past five years, I truly pray to not just “give something up” but to meet Jesus during the lenten season. I kept asking the Father this time around, “What is it? I know you have something for me.” But I wasn’t hearing anything. The season of Lent began and I still didn’t sense something to “give up” for God. I figured, if He wanted me to give something up, He would tell me. It was a couple of days into Lent during a counseling session that I experienced God meeting me during a time when I was neglected as an infant. Then the lightbulb went on. God gently suggested that I continue to come present to that reality during Lent – that He was with me, loving me and calming me when I was that little needy baby. So that’s all I have been doing – letting God meet me in that wounded place so He can bring healing to my being. Isn’t He good! He really is “making room for” me to indulge or feast “on the good things of the Kingdom of God. Thanks for your post, Keith. :)