‘Fast’ is defined as moving or able to move, operate, function, or take effect quickly (Dictionary.com). The act of being fast suggest movement; to move forward or advance to a certain something or destination. But I wonder how did it draw on a religious connotation?
Why is the abstinence from food for religious purposes called fasting?
A quick check on the etymology (origin) of the word found that the word ‘fast’ came from an Old English (Anglo-Saxon) term ‘fæstan’, which means to ‘hold firmly’. In laymen translation, ‘to observe’ can also be translated to ‘to fast’. Putting that aside, why do religions used the word ‘fasting’ to describe and mark the important occasion of consecration? Why can’t we use abstinence instead and save the hassle? Why ‘fast’?
In my own opinion, the act of fasting seems to bring out the essence of moving forward. There is a Chinese saying that goes “We rest so that we can go a longer distance.” Sounds kind of oxymoron; how do you make progress when you stop progress? But when we look at human biology, then it makes sense that we really do need rest to move forward.
Then it could and would make sense that as it (the notion of rest to go the distance) has been hardwired in our DNA and our biology that, the act of fasting – to abstain from food to reach for a divine experience or enlightenment – could really bring us forward. As we fast, we hold firmly to our beliefs, and in doing so, we move forward. Maybe that’s why the word ‘fasting’ was used to describe this important sacrament to consecrate one’s body. Fast as its name suggest highlights a movement forward. And to fast denotes a believer making a decision to abstain, to move forward.
Hence, it is vital that believers engage in the important activity of fasting, an act that in every essence highlights carnal abandonment, consecration of one’s body to a divine being, and the strengthening of faith [for a need or desire for something to come to pass].
Just like love, a father can sacrifice and give his best to show love; he doesn’t take. It is recorded in the Bible that battles of all kinds are won by bent knees and prayer (Hannah, Esther, Daniel, David, Elijah, Jesus), fasting (Daniel, Cornelius, Esther, David, Jesus) and the sound of trumpets-a vocal act of praise (Joshua, Jehoshaphat, David, Paul). The taking of victory is won by actions (Bent knees? Praying? Fasting? Praising?) that is absurd by human understanding. Why not fight fight fight? But that’s how it works in the Kingdom. Because there is a standard of procedure in the Kingdom and therefore, as believers and citizens we operate not by earth’s SOP but by heaven’s. God’s ways are higher than our ways, therefore we fight with weapons that are different but spiritual, different but powerful and mighty in pulling down strongholds.
Fast to move forward. And as we fast, we fast forward into the future and destiny God has set aside for us.