As a self-confessed chow hound, fasting doesn’t come naturally to me. Perhaps it doesn’t come naturally to anyone, but some people seem to handle it better than I do.
When asked to write a story on the recent prayer and fast, I decided to conduct a brief Q & A session with my friend Mark August, truly a gracious and witty Christian who provides words of wisdom, grace and humor for all of us.
Roy: So Mark, you have a reputation as somebody who knows his way around a fast.
Mark: Apparently; I have an undeserved reputation. I fast every year with the church, but that’s about it. True, that’s a regular event but so is my birthday, Ground Hog Day and the Summer Solstice.
Roy: All kidding aside, how does fasting help you in your relationship with God? That is, how do you glorify God in this?
Mark: It’s very easy for me to move from worshiping God to serving an idol—not in the sense of a metal statue of an animal, for example. But I may come to regard my comfort as an idol. I’m often tempted to choose comfort over my service to my King.
Choosing to fast really shakes up this idol big time. I am uncomfortable for a few days, and I know that I can comfort myself with a little food. I have to ask myself, do I choose my love of comfort or my love of God? This should be an easy choice, but it’s not. I need grace.
Roy: Why is it good to begin the new year with a series of days in which you pray and fast?
Mark: I don’t want to be a man who only needs God in a crisis. We need Him for every breath we take, but that’s hard to remember most of the time. Starting the year with fasting and prayer is a good way to remind my soul of this fact. Our church’s prayer time also lifts my view from my own life and those things most special to me, and reminds me of the many needs around me.
Roy: Do you have any advice or even consolation for people like me who are new to fasting or find it difficult?
Mark: I find that if I make the choice about eating the next meal, rather than thinking about the next three days helps me not to be overwhelmed by the idea. Rather than thinking about myself and my need to eat, I try to focus on the battle of the spirit and the flesh. I remind myself that Jesus fasted, and as far as I know, He didn’t whine about it.
Roy: You joined the Spuler Community Group to break the fast at the Sage Diner. What did you have?