Day #1 That Which Truly Satisfies | by Amy Wicks
Ugh. The very word evokes gaunt, emaciated figures, pain, lack, emptiness. Not very intriguing or compelling is it?
At some point my comprehension of the word, fasting, began to shift in my mind and heart. It wasn’t immediate by any means. Still to often my perspective still needs tweaking and adjustment towards the call to fast. For over 20 years, I’ve given myself to the practice of fasting (in various ways) and to exploring what exactly the Lord is calling His people to, when respond to the call of fasting and praying.
Before we go any further, I think it’s important clear up three of the (many) possible misconceptions you may have about fasting:
1. It’s not a diet plan….not all fasting has to do with food. Though going without food is a traditional practice associated with the definition of the word, I think a media fast, a word fast, and various other fasts can be just as effective.
2. If you fast, you will be guaranteed to get what you are currently hoping and praying for….um, well we may or may not have several stories to share this week about the exact opposite happening.
3. This is not an opportunity to prove how holy you are….for me, this is often a time when the Lord reminds me how holy I am not. We are clearly told in Matt 6:16 not to fast and pray as the Pharisees, to be seen and praised by others.
In short, fasting is about making less of us and wanting more of Him. I believe, fasting increases our capacity to choose which truly satisfies.
When I was young and in a church leadership program, the call to fast was a complete food fast, that was a tough one and I urge you to be certain the Lord is asking you to do this and discuss this with your trusted medical professional. But, when you are in an environment which allows the capacity to practice one or more days without any food, there is something significant which can come from this sacrifice.
One time, I did a forty-day fast, I only ate soup once a day. I was young and was seeking a physical healing. In the end, the Lord choose to not heal me through the miraculous, but instead made it clear to go through a recommended surgery, but looking back at that time over 16 years ago I remember it with fondness. A sweet connection, reliance and dependance on the Lord defines my memory of those weeks.
During my years of pregnancy and breastfeeding, I had to reevaluate what fasting would look like in my life. It became clear that what had grown to be a greater comfort to me than Jesus was various forms of media. Oh man, at that stage of my life, that was almost harder than any kind of food fast. Some years, my husband and did this together and we’ve even invited our kids to participate.
Often, the Lord asks me to fast one thing or a few comfort items from my menu. Can I say, the thing I always miss most, is my twice-a-day piece of chocolate! My kids have can attest to my spontaneous odes to chocolate at the dinner table. All too frequently, I have to remind my heart that I love Jesus more than chocolate.
Some of these personal sacrifices might seem silly, but when we choose to set aside something we very much enjoy on a daily basis, it creates a spiritual discipline which can uniquely make us more focused in our prayers, leading our hearts more tender and open to God’s active presence in our lives. For me, it tears down idols which might be building in my life.
James MacDonald says, “When something has a hold on you, when you want to do the right thing, but don’t. And wish you could break free…when you are in a sinful pattern or have a heavy burden, anytime you need more of what only God can provide you need to develop the discipline of fasting.”
I feel like we’ve only begun to scratch the surface on this topic, there is much to learn from the Word of God about the practice of fasting and so many personal stories which confirm the Lord still uses this opportunity to move powerfully in our lives. But, I’m a practical person and really wanted to leave you with some tips I’ve gleaned from others and my experiences along the way.
When you do decide what to fast and for how long:
First, write it down.
Second, share it with someone you trust to keep you accountable.
Third, pray for the resolve and read His Word when it gets tough!
If you’ve decided to fast, we’d love to be one of the places you share this commitment. We’ll be praying for you and cheering you along!
Some recommended scripture for further study: Joel 2:12, Daniel 9:3, Luke 2:37, Acts 13:2, 2 Corinthians 12:6