Own The Mystery3 min read

The hymn Holy God We Praise Your Name ends with these words, after a description of the Trinity: “While we own the mystery.”

That’s good. There are a number of things we do not understand and cannot fully explain about God and his Kingdom, even if we know the Scriptures forward and backward. So, we are led by faith to simply “own the mystery.”

This Lenten season, own the mystery of fasting. Fasting, often connected with prayer, is a common biblical practice. Jesus fasted for those 40 days of his temptation experience. At the end of the fast he was hungry, but was he also stronger? What does fasting do? Why did the disciples fast as well as pray when they were setting apart Barnabas and Saul? What difference did it make in Esther’s day that her people fasted before she went into the king? A mystery.

Jesus, quoting Deuteronomy, said, “Man does not live by bread alone does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (8:3). What does it mean that we are nourished by the Word of God? In what way does the Word of God even surpass the food (and other things) of the world? This Lenten season, own the mystery of fasting.

When the disciples returned and found Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well, they encouraged him to eat something. He said, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about” (John 4:32). And then, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34). Can it be that there is something more nutritious about doing God’s will than eating? Can that be for both our spirit and our body? This Lenten season, own the mystery of fasting.

There are any number of ways to fast. You can give up chocolate for 40 days. You can turn off the TV on Sunday. And so on. But try this. During the Lenten season, find one day each week where you do not eat between sunrise to sunset. If you have health conditions, you could substitute this with very austere meals instead.

During the fast, spend extra time in the Word and in prayer.

Who knows what will happen? We do know Jesus did this sort of thing. So did the early disciples. As did the ancients in Old Testament times.

Here are some guesses. You may find yourself more aware of God’s grace and provision. You may find yourself better prepared for a challenge or temptation. You may find yourself more steadfast and even joyful in faith. You may find yourself less beholden and driven by food and other comforts of the world. You may find that this has nothing to do with a meritorious work but that it works to build your relationship with Jesus. Who knows? Fasting, like so many other things in God’s Kingdom, is a mystery.

This Lenten season, own the mystery of fasting.

Photo © Wendy Musgrave/Lightstock

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About the Author

Rev. David A. Davis serves as President of the Michigan District, LCMS.

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