Self-denial for Spiritual Discipline - Nate Augspurger

Recently, our church challenged us to commit to a fast of some sort. I had never really fasted before, but as our pastor walked us through the importance and purpose behind fasting, I was inspired to practice this discipline. So my wife and I committed to cutting out all junk food, soda, and any other unhealthy food that we may take in.

The Bible talks about the importance of prayer and fasting, giving us many examples and reasons to do so. Mark 9:29 is a great example of the power of this type of practice — cutting unnecessary things or distractions from our lives for a purpose. Some of the reasons people in the Bible fasted were for grief, intercession for others, war, repentance, suffering or spiritual power (who doesn’t want that?). My purpose for this fast was to seek God more intimately and hear Him more clearly. As I denied myself, even of the simplest of pleasures or habits, God drew me in to believe in His truth more than the lies of finding fulfillment in anything else. Fasting keeps us reliant on God and moving forward in knowledge of and intimacy with Him. 

The greatest reason for us to fast is to become like Jesus, doing what He did. We never want to find ourselves becoming “cultural Christians,” simply following what others tell us to do. By removing the distractions of this world — whatever may be keeping you from getting up early in the morning to read the Bible, whether that’s social media, television, video games, a specific diet, or unhealthy relationships or behaviors — we can spend more time with God, discovering what it is He’s speaking to us about. 

When you remove distractions from your life you will discover what is waiting for you on the side of intimacy with God — more power, more humility, more fulfillment, more peace and more joy, just to name a few. I hope to find more things in my life to rid myself of for a time — ways to deny myself in order to put God first. In my career, I’m willing to commit to any mental or physical skills workout that will help me become a better competitor. I don’t care how much time or effort it will take, I’ll do it. No questions asked. 

If I’m willing to wholeheartedly commit to such a discipline in my profession, which only lasts for a time, how much more should I be willing to train myself up in Godliness? It’s about self-denial and self-discipline. It’s about releasing the things in your life that are holding you back. Whatever it takes, I’ll make it happen. 

What are you willing to give up in order to draw closer to God? 

— Nate Augspurger, USA Rugby and San Diego Legion player

Nate Augspurger is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions. Check out Nate’s Increase profile here.

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