I grew up in a church denomination that has a history of shying away from teaching about or encouraging its members to participate in anything that could be considered an ‘emotional’ form of worship. As a result, fasting was not emphasized as an important spiritual discipline. If fact, I think many churches in that denomination would have been (and still are) guilty of encouraging members to ‘gorge’ on food for the glory of God instead of abstaining from food. And believe me…I LOVE casseroles and Christian fellowship, but a part of me wonders what would happen in these churches if the focus shifted from eating food together to cooperatively abstaining from food ?
I am still a member of a church that is a part of the same denomination, and I am very excited that my current church acknowledges and regularly teaches the importance of fasting in the life of the believer.
I began this ‘temporary’ blog as a way to retrace the steps that led me to my husband. As a gift for our ten-year wedding anniversary, I took several weeks to reminisce on the circumstances that brought us together. (You can read our story in the blogs I wrote last November and December) Heartache was one of the paths that led me to my husband. The year before I met Joe, I was engaged to another man. However, the relationship came to a screeching halt just weeks before we were supposed to say, “I do.”
In the weeks following that broken engagement, God began teaching me about the importance of fasting. Through fasting, God healed my heart and refocused my goals in life. I wrote about that time in my life here.
Over the past few weeks I have shared with you a little about my prayer life. This week I thought it would be a great time to write about how I make fasting a regular part of my spiritual walk.
Beginning this weekend, Joe and I will be joining our church in a two-week Daniel fast. You can read details about the fast we will be doing here.
Why do I fast? The answer to this question is the same answer I give for why I pray, why I go to church, why I tithe, why I discipline my children, why I honor my parents….the Bible tells me to.
Until I began this blog, I had only told a handful of people about the role fasting has in my life. The Bible teaches that it is a private matter. However, in the past few months I have had many people ask me questions about fasting, so I felt that I would take this opportunity to ‘teach by example.’
Matthew 6:16-18 (New Living Translation)
16 “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. 17 But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. 18 Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
These verses in the book of Matthew are the words of Jesus. In the previous verses Jesus gives instructions on how to give and how to pray. Then in verses 16-18 he instructs his listeners on the way they should fast.
Notice the introductory phrase, ‘WHEN you fast.’ Jesus doesn’t say ‘if you fast.’ It seems in these verses that Jesus is assuming that the listeners are already fasting.
So what does all of this mean for me? This means that I have made fasting a regular part of my life (I’ll share about how I do this at a later time). It means that when my pastor calls our church on a cooperate fast, I get excited instead of questioning whether it is ‘too emotional.’
I cannot wait to see what God has in store for my church, my family, and my individual life over the next few months. God has always been faithful to bless me when I humble myself and seek him through fasting.
So…who wants to join me? There are two ways you can join me. Number one…you can fast with me and my church. I’d love to know if you are joining us and I’d be happy to try to answer any questions you might have. Number two…you can pray for me as I fast. I hope to write a couple of blogs during the fast and will share with you some of the goals I have made for the fast and some of the prayers I am praying…
I will definitely need people praying for me during the fast. A Daniel fast means that I will have to say no to coffee, cheese, and chips & salsa for two weeks…. all things that I ADORE . However, remember Jesus’s words in John 4:34 (New International Version), “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.
Truly I desire for my nourishment to come from listening and obeying my Father in heaven. That is why I fast. . . to align my will with His will and to shift my eyes heavenward to be satisfied in Him.