I am reading John Piper's book A Hunger for God during this Lenten season and as I read it I plan on sharing some thoughts and quotes from it that might help or encourage those who are fasting. In the introduction he says this:
"The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night. For all the ill that Satan can do, when God describes what keeps us from the banquet table of his love, it is a piece of land, a yoke of oxen, and a wife (Luke 14:18-20). The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable."He is careful to clearly affirm that food and other things we fast from are indeed good gifts of God. His point is that good things, when they replace God instead of lead us to God, can become destructive and idolatrous. So it isn't the thing in itself that's the problem- our sinful heart is the problem.
The book is set out to argue that fasting is one way we can expose these subtle idols of the heart and train ourselves to find satisfaction in God rather than in food, or TV, or any other good thing. It is easy to just say we love God above everything else, but we must continually put that love to the test through sacrifice. Fasting is one God given way to examine our hearts. So when we fast we are really training our hearts to say with the psalmist:
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26)Piper closes the introduction with an excellent quote to ponder. He says:
"If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. God did not create you for this. There is an appetite for God. And it can be awakened. I invite you to turn from the dulling effects of food and the dangers of idolatry, and to say with some simple fast: “This much, O God, I want you.”"