by Rev. Dr. Daniel C. Wilburn
“I beat my body and make it my slave.” – Paul, 1 Corinthians 9:27
Paul spends years in the desert after his meeting the risen Christ. This came after three days after his Damascus road experience, three days of fasting – no food or drink. Fifteen years later his spends time teaching in Antioch (Syria). Some where in those years he is beaten five times by his fellow Pharisees attempting to bring him back from Christianity. Fasting and prayer accompanied the sending of Paul and Barnabas from Antioch to evangelize Asia Minor. Paul and Barnabas ordained leaders in those cities with fasting and prayer. Paul sacrificed, was frugal and lived simply. He worked for his food. He did not take a wage as an evangelist.
We have a long way to go if we want to “imitate Paul” as he implores his letter readers to do. Dr. Dallas Willard: “We talk about leading a different kind of life, but we also have ready explanations for not being really different.” (Spirit of the Disciplines, p108) Are we not following the same Jesus and believing in the same Jesus as Paul? How can we escape following Jesus like Paul?
Paul had a rhythm of fasting, solitude and prayer. It is no fabrication to say that Paul was the original desert father. After his desert preparations THEN he began his ministry. And that was after spending a rigorous life as a Pharisee. Can we escape the same rigors and expect the same results?
Lent is spiritual training. We fight spiritual evils with bodily disciplines.