Desert Wisdom: Fasting (3)

Bunge examines briefly a second reason for fasting—its practical significance (p. 93).

He uses a quotation from Evagrius, which essentially says that a full stomach will make us dull and drowsy, and thus unmoved to pray—whereas  a “famished stomach” will move us to watch and pray.  Rather than going on to interpret this and apply it (as he usually does in the book),  Bunge leaves the point there, without further explanation.

I understand the lethargy that can overtake us when our stomachs are full.  It’s part of the digestion process.  But I have not found that a “famished stomach” makes me think more about God.  It usually makes me think more about food!

But reading between the lines, I’m guessing that Evagrius means that an empty stomach makes us recognize our dependency on God, whereas when our stomachs are full, we can easily take credit for meeting our own needs.

In that respect, I can agree.  But I still wish Bunge had given more interpretation to the point.  I do know that fasting brings to us the awareness that we do not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).  It is an important reminder that God is the Source of all our nourishment.

In that respect, we indeed have a second major reason for fasting.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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1 Response to Desert Wisdom: Fasting (3)

  1. Steve, An empty stomach makes me sleepy. I have to have fuel to stay awake.

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