Fasting – Five Weeks Down, the Rest of My Life to Go

1 04 2011

 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him sent me and to finish his work.”
-John 4:34

 “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 
After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 
The tempter came to him and said,
‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread,’ 
Jesus answered, ‘It is written: 
‘Man does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.*’”
–Matthew 4:1-4, *Deuteronomy 8:3

 I have completed my fifth week of fasting—one day per week consuming only liquids.  (It may be helpful to read about my Call to Fast before proceeding with this post.) After the very first week I was sold on the importance of pursuing this spiritual discipline as well as the blessings it offers.  Here are my observations.

 

I have to be proactive.  Going into each fast, I asked a few close friends to pray for me that:

  • I would be able to fight whatever Satan would throw at me to thwart my efforts.
  • I would fight temptation victoriously.
  • God would honor my heart and my desire to connect with Him on a deeper level.
  • Goodness and blessing would abound.

Indeed, all these prayers were answered in mighty ways. 

I think about food way too much.  However, during my times of fasting, every little stomach grumble or stray thought about a piece of chocolate brought me that much closer to the heart of God.  Every reminder of why I was fasting immediately turned my thoughts to prayer.  I found I was praying constantly throughout the day—significantly more than I normally do.

 

I eat way too much.  I do not need to consume anywhere near the amount of food I do.  I am not overweight by any means, but I eat more than I should simply because it’s there and it tastes good, and most of what I eat is junk.  I am very disciplined in discerning needs versus wants when it comes to financial issues and material possessions, but I lack discipline in this area when it comes to food.  I need to learn to eat what my body needs.  Honestly, I can’t think of a single time when my body needed that second cookie (or even the first.)

 

There is a significant connection between our stomachs and our relationship with God.  I can’t explain this one well, yet.  This is a thought I’ve had often during my fasts, and it’s still something I need to ponder more.  However, there is no denying that food holds a significant role in scripture.  Great feasts and times of rejoicing are mentioned often as are times of sacrifice and fasting.  Whether we are living in abundance or scarcity, how we treat food is possibly a good indicator of how we connect with God.

  • Do you gorge when you are sad or depressed?  Or do you seek the One who can comfort you?
  • Do you eat to reward yourself?  Or do you find your worth as a child of God?
  • Are you continually thinking about your next meal?  Or are you focusing on the One who provides your next meal?
  • Are you disciplined at the buffet?   Or do you seek self-control to avoid the buffet line all together if you know it will be your downfall?  Is this indicative of how you deal with temptation in other areas of your life?

 

There is nothing wrong with being tempted.  Jesus was tempted, after all.  It’s how I deal with temptation that matters.  Going into this the first few weeks, one of my biggest concerns was how I would respond to the temptation of food—the free ice cream after the pep rally, the reheated Polish sausage for Caleb’s dinner, passing the Cinnabon stand at O’Hare, the cookie a co-worker gave me at 7:15 a.m.  I found that because I had been proactive in prayer and continually in prayer throughout the day, the temptation to eat diminished greatly.  Turning my mind from food to God was quite easy and natural.  Physically, I’m still surprised at how easy it is to go a full 24+ hours without eating.

 

Once I got started with my extended time of prayer in the evenings, I didn’t want to stop.  Some days, I get so distracted after just two minutes of trying to pray.  During my times of fasting, however, I want to keep going, even after a solid hour of prayer.  I can’t describe the peace at the core of my soul during these times.

 

God honors our hearts when we seek Him.  The night of my first fast, my husband and I had a long conversation.  He shared with me, with difficulty, about how I had hurt him in the past.  We’ve had this discussion numerous times, and usually I have responded very poorly.  My default behavior is to become defensive, sarcastic, and try to turn the conversation to make myself out to be the victim.  Of course, this is anything but helpful.

 

Because I had been in prayer so intensely throughout the day, I heard the Spirit talking to me very clearly as I continued to pray while my husband was talking.  Seeking God’s will in that moment, I very plainly heard God tell me, “Hold him.  Apologize.”  As simple as this suggestion was, I’m not sure I would have come to the same conclusion had I not been fasting, praying, and seeking God’s will all day, and I’m not sure I would have had the strength to actually do it.  But I did, and blessings flowed.

 

Goodness came from each fast, and I’m not sure I’d have received the same blessings had I not been fasting.  I read this Psalm a few days ago.  It speaks so perfectly to my experience with fasting.

“I will listen to what God the Lord will say;
he promises peace to his people, his saints–
but let them not return to folly. . .

Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven.

The Lord will indeed give what is good,
and our land will yield its harvest.
Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.”
-Psalms 85:8, 10-13

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