Last week I invited anyone who wanted to fast to join me this Wednesday, and I promised a post to help you and me as we step into this spiritual discipline tomorrow. Before we fast, I want to help prepare our minds and hearts for this food-less day journey and help us fast slowly.
Through the years I have fasted quickly. What I mean is, I would skip the meals, but I didn’t always replace the meal with sitting still before God.
My rumbling stomach would remind me to pray, and I would. But I did so driving down a busy road, or running into a store, or doing laundry. And truthfully, that was okay. I still felt closer to God most days after the fast, especially the consistent, week after week ones, but not always.
One year I fasted twenty-four(ish) hours weekly. I was fairly disciplined. It seemed easy looking back. But a blur of activity flashes through my mind as I think back to those fasting days.
Maybe I’m older now and my house much quieter. Maybe I’ve walked through many years of joys and sorrows to get to this place. Or maybe reading Lisa E. Nelson’s book A Woman’s Guide to Fasting, has encouraged, taught, and convicted me in the art of this spiritual discipline. Lisa writes,
“When we think of fasting, our first thought is usually about giving up eating. The reality is, there is no fasting apart from prayer. As I mentioned before, simply not eating is not fasting. Fasting is abstaining from food, or certain foods, in order to devote ourselves to God more fully.Spending time with God in prayer–not abstaining from eating–is the focus of fasting.”
It isn’t realistic to think that every day we hold a spiritual fast we will be able to remove ourselves from the hustle and bustle of our lives, but I want to encourage us to be intentional in some quiet, Bible reading, journal-ling, and prayer time during the fast. Lisa suggests that we take a look at our calendars to avoid fasting on days when it will be very difficult, like days when we have lunch plans with friends. Postpone the lunch date or the fast. You can start the fast after the lunch date and fast twenty-four hours lunch to lunch rather than sundown to sundown.
There are different reasons for fasting. I’ve fasted in crisis situations desperately pleading for a loved one’s healing. I’ve fasted when I’ve felt God tug at my heart to do so, and I’ve fasted simply because I wanted to practice this spiritual discipline, to open my ears to His voice and my spirit to His leading.
But I’ve learned that fasting is not a tactic to force God’s hand. It doesn’t work that way.
“Prayer and fasting, with good motives, is a blessed gift for every believer. We have been given the right, through the blood of Jesus Christ, to approach the throne of God Almighty and ask, petition, and plead. Then in faith, we yield and trust that His answer is best. The guarantee of asking is not that we will instantly gain our heart’s desire; the guarantee is that we will touch the heart of God and He will do whatever is best for us.” ~Nelson
Before our fast, let’s pray, “Search us oh God, and know our hearts; test us and know our anxious thoughts. See if there be any offensive way in us and lead us in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139, plural mine)
Pray that in our fast we want nothing more than Him. Let’s pray that as we petition our needs we discover His grace and love in the process. Because you know. . . we and our loved ones do need homes and jobs and health, but if we don’t have God, we are bankrupt spiritually and lost forever.
What can I have during the fast?
There are different kinds of fasts, but for tomorrow I will be doing a twenty-four hour, sunset to sunset, liquid fast. I didn’t say I will be doing a “water-only” fast, but liquid only. It’s important to drink water during the fast, but it’s okay to include coffee or tea and juices. And I say all this to say, “Give yourself grace.”
That doesn’t mean you can eat an Oreo cookie. Save that for the next day. :) But take care of yourself too. If you have a headache and need your coffee, drink your coffee! If you need some Tylenol, take some.
Fast in and by GRACE.
Lastly, I wanted to give us some scriptures to read during our fast. These are only suggestions if you need some help knowing what to “eat” during lunch. Replace your sandwich with your lighted candle, journal, Bible, and pen. And these scriptures:
I’m praying and fasting with you. I would love to hear what you experience if you participate in the fast this week. Leave a comment here or meet me on my Facebook Fellowship page.
I’ve got to pray.
“Jesus, please bless the eyes reading the words on this screen. Clean out our hearts and prepare us to enter into a day of seeking you. We will give you our needs, our worries, our concerns and desperations. As we spend the day hungry, fill our spirits with you. Lord, I do pray for miracles. I pray for answered prayers. And I pray we come to a deeper knowledge of your love and goodness no matter what. Amen.”
Jesus loves you,