Over the past few years, fasting is a spiritual discipline I’ve incorparated into my worship. Now, that might sound a little crazy to some of you – but the Bible talks about fasting throughout the Old and New Testaments…and it doesn’t even use the word ‘if’, it says ‘when’. The book of Matthew tells us, ‘and when you fast, don’t make it obvious as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable…so people will admire them for their fasting…But when you fast…”
There are also several types of fasts – complete fasts (without food or water), normal fasts (only water), partial fasts (without some foods), Daniel fast (only God-given, God-made stuff – fruits, veggies, legumes, etc.), etc. And, truth be told, I do not fully understand the purpose or power of fasting in and of itself. I know that in Isaiah we’re told that fasting is intended to “loose the bonds of injustice, undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break bondage” YES PLEASE!! I know that pretty amazing things have happened while I’ve fasted – I’ve exprienced an incredible dependence on the Lord, an increased awareness to His voice, I’ve been freed from an unhealthy addiciton to food, I found a husband, and things at my workplace improved 100 fold, just to name a few. However, I’ve also fasted and not noticed any major difference. One thing I know is that I WANT TO KNOW THE LORD MORE DEEPLY. I am hungry, I am desperate, and I am pleading to know the Lord more deeply – and one way I will choose to do this is to limit the distractions in my life, to set apart these next 21 days and seek Him fervently with prayer and fasting. And I want to document some of this experience with you all, my three faithful readers who I know are just dying to be a part of all of this 🙂
One thing I think is INCREDIBLY important to realize and is often overlooked or misunderstood by many people – even those in church leadership, is that Biblically, fasting ALWAYS HAS TO DO WITH FOOD. Always. The definition of a Biblical Fast is ‘to restrict food for a spiritual purpose’. In fact, the Hebrew word for fast means ‘to cover the mouth’ and the Greek word means ‘to abstain from food’. I don’t think this could be much more clear. But I think in this culture where food has come to mean so much to us that it’s almost idolatrous, it’s difficult for us to think that God would be calling us to sacrifice food. And, the reality is, our body NEEDS food and water as energy to survive, so a fast truly becomes a sacrifice where we can physically and spiritually empty ourselves and desperately seek for Him to fill us and guide us.
I’ve often heard people say they are ‘fasting from television’ or ‘fasting from facebook’. These are not fasts. I think it’s a justification to state that they are. Maybe they could be considered a sacrifice. But, really, it’s almost unfortunate that we even consider this a ‘sacrifice’ worthy of our Lord – how much of a sacrifice is it really to stay off of Facebook, or from watching tv, or from taking in other forms of media. And if it feels like a sacrifice in our lives, maybe we need to do some soul searching on our priorities while we’re at it 🙂 God desires our FIRSTfruits – not the leftovers. And I’m so guilty of giving Him the leftovers – the leftover energy at the end of the day, the leftover time when maybe I can spend some time reading or praying…and that reveals a problem in my life. If I truly understood the MAGNITUDE of our God’s character, the POWER that He so blesses me with, the LOVE He has for His people, the DESIRE He has for us to first seek Him and live lives of FREEDOM that are reflective of JESUS CHRIST Himself- would I ever really question how I spent my time?? No. So, these next three weeks as I embark on a Daniel Fast, I want to be really cognizant of where I spend my time: what do I do first thing in the morning, throughout the day, before falling asleep, etc. It’s the thousands of small moments throughout the day that shape our character – and I want to be so shaped and molded by Him that it’s undeniable. And, let me tell you (and ask my husband or roommates or family if you need verification) – it is not always evident by my words and actions how much I love the Lord. But, oh, how I desire it to be!
So, we’ll see how this goes, we’ll see what I learn, we’ll see how I grow All I know is that we serve a FAITHFUL God. And that “our souls can be transformed to the degree that you renew your mind, change your attitude, and conform to the Word of God” – please God, renew my mind, change my attitude, and shape my life!