Scripture: 2 Corinthians 6.4-5
Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger.

Reflection: Fasting “Better”
By John Tillman

Fasting is at times viewed as an extreme Christian practice. It’s what spiritual weirdos do—tied to mysticism and getting starvation-fueled visions from God. It’s a way to bargain with God or force God to give us what we want.

At times there is such stress upon the blessings and benefits of fasting that we would be tempted to believe that with a little fast we could have the world, including God, eating out of our hands. — Richard Foster

Much of today’s literature on fasting has little to do with the spiritual aspects. We tend be be fascinated by and focus on the physical aspects of fasting. In fact, many modern articles about fasting are, ironically, about how to fast while minimizing hunger or, indeed, any other physical effects of fasting.

“Hungerless” fasting may be the strangest feature of modernized Christianity.

As fasting has grown fashionable again, we want to do it. But we want to do it “better.” It’s easy for it to become just another spiritual competition of one-upmanship and comparison.

Perhaps this is why Christ’s teaching on fasting almost exclusively discusses private, personal fasting. Perhaps in order for the most to be revealed in fasting, its practice must be concealed.

As we engage in the corporate and partial fast of Lent, may we be more concerned with our personal connection to the Holy Spirit than shows of public observance. May our corporate fast be more intimate than it is public—drawing us together as a community rather than displaying our righteousness before men.

May we experience the discomfort of what we lack, not as something to be avoided or minimized, but as a part of our identification with Christ and as a part of our being joined to him and to the body of Christ in unity.

Prayer: The Small Verse
Today if you shall hear His voice, harden not your heart.

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Job 36 (Listen – 3:04)
2 Corinthians 6 (Listen – 2:31)