A Sleep Fast (Matthew 6:17-18)

Fasting is one way that we can rededicate ourselves to God. When we voluntarily give up something like food, there is sense that we are sacrificing something very important to seek God’s will in our life or to intercede in prayer for others.

Most of us view fasting as giving up food. But there are many kinds of fasts. Recently, I was able to participate in a media fast where I did not access any form of online or audio communications for 3 days. This meant no internet (except to answer and send emails), no television, and no radio. Although it was a bit difficult on the first day, by the third day, I appreciated the quietness and the opportunity to spend the extra time in prayer and devotion to God. I have also fasted from food for up to 3 days and although I was a bit uncomfortable, it was not a great sacrifice as I thought it could have been.

I began thinking what could I voluntarily give up for God that would require a great sacrifice? And during this past week, as my wife and I cared for our son who is ill, the painful answer emerged.


I do not think it is wise to give up sleep or deprive oneself of rest, but clearly there are times when this is unavoidable-caring for a sick family member, a friend in crisis, an unexpected problem that demands an immediate solution. I do not handle sleep deprivation very well. I am a morning person and accomplish much of my work beginning at 6AM in my office. But this early productivity comes at a cost and when I return home, my brain begins to shut down after 9PM and I would ideally like to be in bed by 10PM since I awaken at 5AM every weekday morning. Thus, I may become very insensitive and cranky when I need to engage in deep conversations or discussions after 9PM. In fact, the majority of disagreement and arguments that I have had with family members have occurred after 9PM.

But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Matthew 6:17-18

Our Lord, Jesus Christ, spoke these words. Although He was specifically addressing a fast from food, I believe it applies to every type of fast. I may not be fasting from sleep every night, but I need to be mindful that the sleep and rest schedules of my family and friends may not correspond to mine. I need to put my best face forward during these times when I am most tired.

My best face can be achieved by giving my fatigue over to Jesus Christ. He understood the weariness of a long day. He experienced physical and mental fatigue. But He persevered as He relied upon His relationship with God the Father to sustain Him.

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, He has given you His Holy Spirit to indwell within you to strengthen you during your most strenuous physical and mental challenges.

Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.