Wednesday, October 24, 2012

day 24: the fastest way to God

(View all the 31 Days of Deep Love Diving posts here )

I never thought about fasting until I knew Jesus. Not eat food on purpose? That sounded like pure craziness.

Even when I first began to follow Him and was introduced to the concept through other believers, it still seemed crazy. I didn't really believe it was something I needed to do to draw closer to God and fasting to get God to answer prayer seemed rather manipulative, like "Look God. I'm not eating so that you'll answer my prayer favorably."

Obviously I didn't get it.

I still didn't get it the first couple of times I tried it, but then, I did it for the wrong reasons. For the longest time after, I feared fasting food, avoided it like the plague, denied that it's something God would ever ask me to do again. (Side note: He never "asked" me to fast those first couple of times. I did it because I thought I had messed up and fasted to repent for my lack of obedience. When really, all I had to do was repent and ask for forgiveness.) Instead I chose to fast from other things like TV, the computer, books.  

picking through garbage for food (photo source)
Then, I read Seven by Jen Hatmaker and the idea of fasting from food again took hold. I liked the idea of fasting to better understand the hunger pangs of the poor and to sharpen my ability to pray for those who go without daily sustenance.

So I tried it. It was hard and not fun and I felt weak most of the day, but it also drew me to thoughtfully pray for the hungry.

But what started out as an experiment in fasting for the hunger has become about fasting to sharpen my hunger for God. To learn what it means to lean on His strength, to ask Him to be my Bread and my sustenance, to acknowledge that I cannot live on bread alone. I need Him. I want to crave Him.

It's still hard and not fun and I often think about the food I'll eat the next day. But for that moment, I learn what it means to rely on His strength and not my own.

Have you ever fasted from food (more that chocolate or desserts during Lent)? What challenged you the most?
If you've never fasted before:
  • Caution: Fasting is a powerful spiritual weapon - see Jesus in the desert - never fast for the wrong reasons as I initially did. A few of the good reasons to fast: you want to be closer to God, you're seeking His guidance and will for a certain area, to pray on behalf of others. 
  • Check your Bible to learn why people fasted.
  • Prayerfully ask to God to guide the details of your fast: i.e. what you will fast, the length of time, the reasons.
  • If you are doing a total fast (from food and water) or even fasting from most of the foods you usually enjoy, there will probably come a point where you think fasting is pointless and stupid. Persevere through this feeling. This is the time to lean on God's strength to get you through.
This week I'm learning to love God with all my strength and loving strangers. Want to join me? Please click here for this week's challenges.

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