I told my wife I wanted to take a break. She was devastated. Just kidding, that never happened. When one person says that to their partner in today’s culture it pretty much means we’re finished. But the Apostle Paul gives accommodation for taking a break in the marital relationship; not a break from being married, but taking a break, or fasting, from sexual intimacy in order to focus on prayer.

Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Cor 7:5

Fasting is taking a break from eating solid food. Humans need to drink water to survive, but they can take a break from eating for days at a time. Jesus did it for 40 days before beginning his public ministry recorded in the gospels, Luke 4:1-3. The human body has a natural response to fasting. Most of us feel that response every day when our bodies tell us, or compel us, in various ways, to think about and go get food.

Our bodies compel us toward other behaviors too. Sex is an obvious one. There are others we may not think about much, but there are benefits to being intentional about our compulsions and practices with them. Take breathing as an example. We don’t usually think about it. But there are times when people try to focus intentionally on their breathing: during exercise, swimming, or activities that require fine motor skills. Control of breathing and growth in the timing of it and strength in it can be a great benefit for one’s body and life.

I wish something inside would compel a focus on God the way bodies naturally compel a focus on getting food, getting air, or getting sex.

This is what fasting is for. An intentional practice to help people focus on God. When fasting, whenever your body makes you think about or crave the thing you are fasting from, turn to prayer. Think about and focus on God instead. Dr. Bill Bright wrote a small guide to successful fasting and prayer. He begins the guide with these words, “I believe the power of fasting as it relates to prayer is the spiritual atomic bomb that our Lord has given us to destroy the strongholds of evil and usher in a great revival and spiritual harvest.” Those words sound like a great goal for any person and every relationship to strive for. So, maybe right now would be a good time to take that break.

John Riley
Jr. High Pastor

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