When you stop and think about it, it’s amazing how often people need to eat. In a time and place where food is so readily available, we sometimes fail to notice how peculiar it is that people require so much food. Why would God design things this way? After all, God could have created us to need only one meal during the course of a week or month, but if I go much more than few hours without taking in some sustenance, my body lets me know it’s not happy.
Perhaps our need for relatively consistent eating is meant by God to teach us of our continual need for spiritual sustenance. Jesus aluded to this principal when he said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
In other words, every day man needs both physical and spiritual meals. However, if we look at the amount of time and energy spent consuming the ‘bread of life’ (John 6:35), it doesn’t even compare to our devotion to merely physical bread. We eat all the time!
On the other hand, most of us are just proud when we finally manage to incorporate morning devotionals into our daily routine. But is this enough? They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but no one believes it should be our only meal of the day. In the same way, should we be content with morning devotions, and not concern ourselves with the other spiritual ‘meals’ of the day? Mightn’t we need the equivalent of a spiritual ‘lunch’ and ‘dinner’ as well?
When we purposefully skip a few meals we call that ‘fasting,’ yet we should learn one of the main lessons fasting is meant to teach us: fasting reminds us how quickly we become weak without regular intake. Unfortunately, the average Christian lives in what could best be described as a perpetual state of spiritual fasting. Is it any wonder then that we suffer from so much spiritual weakness?
There is a great need for our spiritual lives to begin to mirror our physical lives. The Old Testament prophet Daniel knew the danger of spiritual malnutrition so he, “got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God” (Daniel 6:10).
David also followed the physical pattern of ‘three meals-a-day’ in his spiritual life when he confessed, “Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice” (Psalms 55:17).
Like these saints, we all have the opportunity to regularly nourish our spirits through prayer and the Word. The Word of God creates life (Genesis 1:3, John 11:43), but we must spend time consuming it to get the benefits. An unopened Bible and an unused prayer closet hold no more spiritual value than uneaten vegetables do for the body.
The Psalmist says, “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words” (Psalm 119:47).
We must also rise in the morning and be nourished to hope and act on all the promises God has made through His Word. But we must not stop there! In the very next verse the Psalmist continues, “My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise” (Psalm 119:148).
The cure for the plague of spiritual weakness that inflicts the Church today is to devote our energy to consuming Christ with at least the same energy with which we pursue food. We must join with the Old Testament saints in singing, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97).
Publication date: April 8, 2011