Fasting from Facebook (Prayer & Fasting)
Christian Fasting - Quick Intro
This hub assumes you know about the Christian practice of fasting. The traditional Christian understanding of fasting is abstaining from food for a period of time in an effort to draw closer to God or to obtain God's help in a certain situation.
This hub sort of challenges that traditional understanding and invites you to consider a deeper look.
In a poignant message on the subject of fasting, author Lisa Bevere described fasting as being about "separation" and not about food.
She said, "Diets change the way you look. Fasting changes the way that you see."
This is a critically important concept on the subject of fasting. Too many Christians approach fasting as a horrible, painful way to get into God's good graces, or, to coerce God into doing something for them - into blessing them. All too often, the focus is, "If I fast, then God will do X, Y, or Z."
There is some substance to that. There are many, many biblical references to fasting and all of them are talking about food. Separating yourself from food is one way - in fact, the most talked about way - to fast, and the most talked about reason for fasting is to seek some result.
One webpage lists around 76 separate Bible verses mentioning fasting, and one of the major purposes for fasting is for seeking aid, either for oneself, or for others, or for relief of one kind or another.
But if you consider fasting as a way to help you see better (see = understand, come to knowledge of, finally "get"), than fasting is good with or without some sort of benefit or blessing. The ability to see God - to know God or more about the Kingdom of God on earth - is a blessing unto its own.
And along with that comes the idea that, whatever is keeping you from fully seeing, may not be food. It may be something else.
The Case for Fasting from Facebook
In Biblical times, there was no Facebook (no brainer). Surely there were social forms of communication - parties, family dinners, etc. - that would be substitutes for our now preferred method of social interaction.
But it's important to note that most pre-Facebook face-to-face social encounters involve food. And so fasting would involve likely both physical separation from others and denial of food - the reason for gathering or if not the reason, than the thing that makes gathering worthwhile.
So what's Facebook got to do with all of this?
Please make no mistake - I am not bent against Facebook. I love Facebook as much as the next person. Facebook is a major way for me to connect with both family and friends. However, for me, Facebook is huge time and attention suck. Facebook does something for me in the way that food does something for the body. Heavy Facebook users may eventually admit that Facebook has become a part of their lives - a source of satisfaction at the very least and a source of life at the very worst.
As such, it is up for discussion when it comes to fasting.
What Does Fasting Facebook Look Like?
Again, we need to come back to what fasting is and replace the word "food" with "Facebook."
Fasting is abstaining from Facebook for a period of time in an effort to draw closer to God or to obtain God's help in a certain situation.
Seriously? Okay, I'm sure that looks silly. But for people who use and rely on Facebook day in and day out, it's not silly at all. It's quite serious. But it's critical to ask a couple of questions before determining what it means for you.
- Can you really draw closer to God by taking a break from Facebook?
- Is it just about taking a break, or does it imply that you do something else with that time?
Can Fasting Facebook Draw A Person Closer to God?
Firstly, it really depends on how much the person in question actually uses Facebook, and how. Using Facebook for inspiration (defined as "the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative") would count as heavy use, and it's likely that, underneath it all, many Facebook users fall into this category. Underneath it all, why do we look at pictures? Why do we care about other people's status updates? What do we get from links to news articles?
We are stimulated to do or FEEL something, and that is the definition of being inspired.
Christians believe that God desires to be the source of inspiration. Facebook ends up taking that place, even when we are directed toward Christian things on Facebook. Facebook is still the source.
Facebook is innocent until it becomes more of an inspiration than God.
Drawing Closer to God and the Case for Fasting Facebook Periodically
There are lots of ways we could talk about drawing closer to God, but James 4:8 in the the New Living Translation says something critically important that also helps clarify why fasting Facebook could be beneficial:
Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
Maybe it's not that a person considering fasting Facebook's loyalty is divided between God and the world. But maybe it is. How would one know? What would be the test to determine it?
The test comes when that person decides that he/she cannot bear to step away from Facebook for a day, or three days, or a week. If you can easily say, "Of course" and immediately log out of Facebook and discontinue notifications, then okay. You probably don't need to fast Facebook or wouldn't get anything out of it.
Otherwise, if the idea of taking a break from Facebook in order to draw closer to God is rather painful, that is an indication that Facebook could be a suitable replacement for food in a fast.
Video: Seeking God with Prayer and Fasting
Ultimately, it's not really what you fast that matters. Facebook, food, social activity, indulgences (even things like books, magazines, etc.). This video discusses prayer and fasting in hard times in order to seek God (and ultimately, to see God).
What Do You Fast?
What do you fast? Do you only ever abstain from food, or do you choose other things? Does the whole idea of fasting Facebook seem ludicrous to you?
There are so many varying opinions on this and all are worth sharing.
Weigh in and share your thoughts in the poll to the right as well as in the comments.
Tips for Fasting from Facebook
You may decide against fasting Facebook or social media sites, or, you may decide against fasting altogether. However, if you do decide you are going to fast Facebook for awhile, here are some tips.
- Log out! Just closing the app or exiting a window isn't going to turn Facebook off. You need to intentionally log out.
- Do it on all devices. Logging out of Facebook on your work computer but leaving your mobile phone's Facebook app logged on isn't going to help you (or vice versa). Do it to everything - everywhere you have Facebook installed.
- Don't tell your friends. The Bible is clear on this point - don't go around telling everyone you are going to fast. In fact, no one should really know. Fasting is between you and God. It's not a bragging right.
- Pray. Fasting belongs with prayer. Pray continually; learn to listen to God and learn to speak and walk with God. The removal of the noise and distraction of Facebook will provide some quiet moments - maybe too quiet - and those moments are perfect times for prayer.
- Intentionally draw close to God during this time. This is important for fasting in general. The point of fasting isn't to go without. It is the going without that draws us closer to God. So when you fast, have a purpose. Spend more time with God. That is pretty much what makes fasting worthwhile.
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