This is all reposted from 2 posts last summer, but I wanted to put them up again. For me, and for any who might find it helpful…
This is obvious, perhaps, but I will say it nonetheless: to fast WELL, really requires a purposefulness, giving it priority, and shifting your lifestyle for a season. See, anyone can skip a meal, or go without certain things, at least for a while. Some people are probably naturally better at denying themselves than others. But, really, that doesn’t mean a whole lot, except maybe learning some self-control and discipline.
To fast “well”, as I say, means: to truly engage your heart at a deeper level with God (which is why God has given us the wonderful gift of fasting). It’s easy to just go on with life as “usual”, even while fasting. I’m shocked how often I find myself not really praying in a more concentrated way, and I’m just going through life . . . but, I fool myself into thinking I’m more spiritual because I’m “fasting”. But, do I feel closer to God, am I seeking Him more, am I turning my heart toward Him every time I think of what I’m “missing out” on? That’s what should be happening. And, really, it has to be very intentional, I find. It doesn’t happen on accident. You won’t pray if you don’t SET ASIDE the time for that purpose only. In a season of fasting, you want to pray more frequently and more intensely. You want to dedicate MORE time to personal Bible study and worship. You have to plan on it. And, if you’re fasting seriously, you’ll need to slow your life down, actually do LESS. This is HARD! We don’t like to slow life down, because then we feel like we’re accomplishing less.
Fasting can make you tired, irritable, weak. And, I think that’s why it’s such a good thing. We see that we are weak (physically, emotionally, and spiritually), and seeing our need causes us to CALL OUT TO GOD and realize that we can’t do it on our own. This is the true state of being for us every day; we are IN NEED OF GOD for every breath, everything! But, we have so many “props” that keep us running on empty and without God—food, entertainment, busy-ness, caffeine, etc. – that we end up living a very empty, weak, lifeless, powerless existence, void of the power and presence of God, but we don’t see it or feel it because we are full, distracted, entertained, and high on sugar and caffeine.
I’m not trying to be condemning. I just keep looking at my life and praying, “I don’t WANT to be empty and powerless and dead on the inside! I want real life, God!” and I’m crying out, “God, send revival to our nation!! We are so Godless!!!! Even those who call themselves “Christians” may be more “having a form of godliness but denying it’s power”, and that’s a scary thought!!
Either way, here’s the thought in a nutshell: It’s not about what you “let go” of or “give up” during a fast, it’s about what you EMBRACE.
Add to that this thought: Whatever you embrace during fasting is what you will bind your heart and soul to.
Interesting thought, huh?
It goes like this. It’s not so important if you’re giving up meat, sugar, all foods, various types of entertainment, words, etc. during a fast. Whatever you are willing to do and give is your gift to the Lord. One is not better than another or somehow more special or holy. It’s what you, out of a sincere heart desire to give to Him. And, what you feel that He is giving you the strength and grace to follow through with. It’s giving up things that are good, legitimate, God-given as an act of saying, “I want the highest, best pleasures of God, not just the lower, lesser ones. So, I will say “no” to the good, so that I might apprehend the “best”. This can be for a season, or for a lifetime (within reason).
I think of it like this: when a child makes a little card or drawing or craft for their parents, the parents ALWAYS love and appreciate that gift (if they are good, loving parents), it is their favorite thing. They treasure it and remember it, perhaps post in on the fridge or keep it in a scrapbook. That gift from the heart and hands is a precious thing. The parent does NOT say, “well, I would have liked it MORE if you would have done this, instead of that….” No! It’s not the type of gift, it’s that it is true and from the heart.
I believe that’s how our Good Heavenly Father feels about our fasting. Whatever we give out of a true heart of love, touches His heart deeply.
So, it’s not so much about “what kind of fast” but about WHY, and who is it for, really?
There are many things that you can be embracing in a fast, that may not get you closer to God and may get you further away. For example, you may in your zealousness and fasting “embrace” spiritual pride, thinking that you are better than others because you are willing to “sacrifice” and fast. Or, you may “embrace” weight loss as what you desire in your fast. Weight loss can be good for some, but don’t let yourself get attached to appearances, this an idol!
Some good things you could “embrace” in a season of fasting: Getting closer to the heart of God; Seeing breakthrough/revival/etc.; personal breakthrough/deliverance; deeper encounter with the Holy Spirit. These are all good and will be wonderful things to have your soul and life attached to during a fast. It will change you and affect you positively far beyond the “season” of the fast!!
I want to embrace Jesus. I want to feel what He feels, think what He thinks, see what He sees and do what He does. I embrace the need for revival in my, in those around me and in our nation. God, have Your way, and let us NOT be content with things the way they are!!