Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”
But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
Relate: Are you hungry? I’m hungry. It isn’t the soul-sucking, gut-gnawing hunger that comes when you know that if you don’t have something to eat soon, you will die. I’ve been there. After college, I tried to go on a forty-day fast. I didn’t make it and for quite a while afterward, people who saw me were wondering if I was sick, as in the terminal illness he is on his last leg type sick.
Nope. The hunger I am facing right now is more of an “I’m a couple hours late for dinner” type of hunger. Our church is starting the year out with 21 days of prayer and fasting and although I am not going the full out, no food for three weeks, I am fasting enough that I feel like I’m in perpetual low-grade hunger. There will be no selling of birthrights anytime soon, but my stomach and my attitude are both doing a lot of grumbling so far… and I’m not even three full days in yet. I feel sorry for those who have to put up with me these next few weeks. No snickers can cure this hangry.
React: “What do you want more?” That question was asked of me way back in my Bible college days when I was talking with a friend about a fast we were doing and I was struggling with. Do I want God more than this next meal? God already knows the answer to that. Obviously, He does, He is omniscient. He knows everything. But going through a time of fasting is a way of proving to ourselves what that answer is. Beyond that, it is a way to literally force Him into becoming a greater priority in our lives. My body is saying that hamburger is far more important than spending time with God. But fasting is a way for my spirit to say to that body, “You’re not in charge.”
Jesus spoke the truth when he quoted scripture at the Devil. Mankind truly does not live by bread alone. The problem is, our need for God is not normally as much a “felt” need as those at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy. When we chose to fast, the “felt” need of hunger becomes a constant reminder to us that we need God even more than food. The question is, do we want him enough to continue fasting?
I want You. More than food, more than breath, I want You. As I chose to go without bread, help me to demonstrate to myself and to the world how much I truly do want You. Give me the strength to put aside the temporary short term satisfaction of food so that my greater, deeper need might be met in You. Give me the self-discipline to continue to say “no” to the mortal cares of this world so that I might draw closer to the eternal reality of who You are. Help me to put aside the flesh so that I might become more like You.