A week from today, Americans will gather around tables and eat. A lot. We will feast. Despite the name of the day, many will do so mindlessly. They will feast without being thankful, stress out instead of being grateful. But a simple spiritual practice will make Thanksgiving more meaningful for you.
The food celebrates abundance. It’s a way of rejoicing in God’s goodness to us. An affirmation of his generosity to us. The question is, do we love the gifts of God (the food) more than we love God?
How can you prepare spiritually for Thanksgiving? An excellent spiritual practice to engage in during this next week is that of fasting. Mysteriously, the meal will be that much more enjoyable if you have abstained in the time leading up to the meal.
Fasting is the counterpoint to feasting. It stands in contrast to it, making us all the more grateful for the experience of the feast. Fasting gives feasting deeper meaning.
I recently reviewed the book Fast Living on this blog. The book, which is about how the church will end extreme poverty (they’ll do so by prayer and FASTING), is part of a project called 58:, which gets its name from Isaiah 58, which says that the purpose of fasting is to “share your food with the hungry” and to help the poor.
The 58: website has a list of projects that you can pray for, fast over, and give to. What if you cut back on your food budget this week and used the money to buy a Thanksgiving meal for someone who otherwise would not have one? Or donated the money to one of the cool projects on the 58: website? What if you drank water with those simple meals for the next week, and took the money you would have normally spent on other beverages, and donated it toward a well for those who have no water?
What if you fasted and prayed this week, asking God who you should invite to your feast table? how can you share your food with the hungry? (One way we’ve done this in the past is to invite refugees to our home for Thanksgiving).
What if you lived out Isaiah 58, fasting and feasting, being grateful and sharing?
I’m not suggesting an absolute fast. Rather, what indulgences could you abstain from this week before Thanksgiving? Perhaps you’ll set aside sweets–which will make that pumpkin pie next Thursday all the more exquisite.
What if you gave up restaurant meals or coffee shop coffee, and put the savings toward a 58: project? What if you just ate simply, (as much of the world does always) up until the day of the feast, as a way of remembering those who will have no feast?
How can you make Thanksgiving more meaningful? By living what Scott Todd calls the “true fast” of Isaiah 58.