Fasting…. 40 days
No replenishment. No nourishment. No fulfillment. Lacking…
Complaining. No replenishment. No nourishment. No fulfillment. No food or drink. Hunger.
Waiting. Counting the days, the hours, the minutes, until it’s over. Looking in the mirror and saying, “Self, look at you. You fasted. You did it. Good for you.” Done.
Did you accomplish your goal? Did you reach for your gold star? Did you prove something?
Nothing. If you are not replenished, not nourished, and not fulfilled, then you accomplished nothing while wallowing in hunger and thirst.
Fill yourself with the only one who can fulfill all of your needs.
When your time of fasting comes, you need to not just understand why you are doing so, but how to do so. I don’t have a lot of authority on the subject of fasting, but I do have a little story that has encouraged me in my choices over the past couple of years and it all revolves around two sermons by two different pastors, two weeks apart, at two different churches.
My family and I were attending a church for a year and a half. We struggled to really feel at home, but it was okay enough for us to stick it out. The sermons all fell into what we believed and the children’s ministry was great.
We were in a series that encouraged church growth. Through the series, we were asked to go about our communities and to invite others to walk a path to salvation. Through this time, there were different tasks over several weeks such as: ask a neighbor to church, knock on a stranger’s door to witness to them, join with other churches walking through our neighborhoods, raise money, etc.
Then there was the day we walked out.
I honestly don’t remember what the topic of the sermon actually was. I remember sitting with my husband and our baby propped between us in the same seats that we sat in for a year and a half. We sat there as our pastor started to talk about fasting. Everyone should fast. You should fast several times a year. You cannot reach God unless you fast. You cannot be like Jesus unless you fast. Let’s all, as a church, fast together.
There were two stands, one on each side of the stage, with a journal. The pastor called all church family to come up and sign a covenant with each other to commit to fasting for the next ten days taking breaks when needed. As you stood in line for the entire church body to see, you were given high-fives by random staff and if you were lucky enough, you got a hug from the pastor. If you did not stand in line, everyone saw that you weren’t fasting and some stuck their noses up in your direction…. I stood up and stuck my body towards the door.
Walking. Fuming. Knowing that something was quite wrong with the situation as hand… knowing that our small group leaders who spoke to us from that line while we were sitting were scoffing at our lack of participation. Children in hand and out the door, we never turned back.
A week later, new church, one that we should have started at from day one. The pastor spoke some wisdom on, you guessed it, fasting. To be specific, Pastor spoke about Matthew.
Matthew 6: 16-17
“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. “But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face…”
This not only confirmed my lack of participation… it confirmed a new church home. A church home that shows no face other than one of love and acceptance even when you stay seated.
So, actual fasting, since Matthew confirms that I do not need to make it other people’s business, I will not tell you what I did nor when I did it, but I can tell you that it took me quite some time to commit to it and it’s a struggle. I am a human being, an apple fallen from the tree. There is only one perfect person who died because of the lack of respect and obedience on my part, and my fasting may get me closer to Him, but I will never feel equal.
I did fast. I changed. I learned and renewed and loved and finally found joy. Joy! What was I lacking all of these years? Joy! And I found it through obedience. I would have found God and walked with Jesus and been there in eternity even without fasting.
God loves and forgives. Further obedience just got me some perspective, something I desperately needed and here I am.
1 Corinthians 7:5
Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
Drink in Life. Nourish in God’s Word. Fulfillment through Christ. You will no longer be hungry.
May I suggest a few things? You do not need to necessarily fast from food. You can fast from a multitude of things. What are some things you could fast from? Certain types of foods such as white flour or gluten, processed foods, coffee or pop, snack foods are all good starting places. Social Media. Computer usage. Television. Music. Specific people. Books. Maybe now is a good time to fast from toxic things in your life that you know are sinful or lead to sinful acts.
Now is the time.