Fasting is not just giving something up. WHEN—not if (see Matthew 6:16)—we fast, it is to draw us closer to God..
And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. …. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret.…. ~ Matthew 6:16-18a ESV
The adult Sunday School class I taught years ago was a hoot. Most were much older than me—as in my parents’ age. They were all students of the Bible and loved God’s Word. But they also loved to have fun. Because of that, I learned to be creative. Sometimes I would sit them in rows, other times in a circle. I would separate them into men and women, or have them “sit with anyone but your spouse.” We had Hug Sundays where they had to hug everyone in the class. We celebrated Lent and Advent (yes, even Presbyterians could do that!). We made a Joshua tree.
There was only one thing they wouldn’t do. If I even mentioned the word “fasting,” they immediately looked like deer caught in the headlights. Unfortunately, many of us look the same way. We may light-heartedly give something up for Lent, but we have lost the true meaning of what a fast is.