I fasted last Sunday.
First time in years.
I've never been in a regular routine of fasting, but wonder what would happen in the Christian heart if it was a regular practice...a practice not to be following a ritual or earning favor with God, but practicing submitting our thoughts and attitudes our desires and cravings to Christ alone. For each tummy rumble, for each craving for physical fulfillment, a reminder of how our flesh wages war...as John Piper says, "This much, O God, I want you." I want to be filled up and satisfied by YHWH Himself more than I even want food!
Fasting: to abstain from something in order to gain something
I have fasted many times over the years. Mostly for Lent, though unfortunately, I didn't quite understand and thus apply the "praying" aspect of fast so much in those times and my motives weren't so much to appreciate the suffering of my risen Savior more during that Lenten season. But nonetheless the discipline of intentionally, purposefully, controlling my desires consistently for an extended period of time, has proven fruitful.
1996: abstained from soda for Lent -- motive was more for the health benefit in my swimming, but I am rarely even interested in having a soda now.
1997-98: some combination of sweets, cookies, ice cream, chocolate given up for Lent -- well, I guess those are some more deeply rooted fleshly desires - can't say those Lent sacrifices have had lasting effects:)
1999: abstained from chewing gum for Lent -- broken habit now.
Early 2000's I started learning more about the power of fasting for the purpose of "putting off" that which was hindering me from intimacy with Christ, that which was distracting me from "setting my mind on things above, not earthly things" and "putting on" praying for that undivided heart. John Piper has a book, "Hunger for God" which is a powerful motivator to Holy Spirit-centered fasting.
And as I was sensitive to that which was hindering my intimacy with Christ, I realized they were in fact idols in my life:
~ distracted by thoughts of a man I was attracted to (prior to marriage)--fasting from those distracting thoughts looked like not allowing them to linger at all; as soon as the thought came I was disciplining myself to surrender it to Christ and re-focus on Him as my Lover...we can/should do this with all sorts of thoughts!
~ pre-occupied by my appearance--fasting looked like wearing t-shirt and jeans and no make-up for two weeks...the heightened sacrifice of this could be explained in saying that it was the beginning of a school year and I was just starting a new role as campus minister to the Greek entity of our college ministry. Yes, Greek as in usually pretty influenced by and making quick judgments on people's outward appearances. So, here I am fighting my vain tendencies to make a good first impression by what I wear and how I look to these college gals. I wanted to "fit in" and be the "cool" staff women and for two weeks they only see me in t-shirt and jeans with no make-up. I could have waited until my reputation was already established, but no, God called for the fasting then and obedience right then at the beginning of the school year was where it began. That was a powerful lesson in what God values and make an impact on seeing things more as God does.
~ my snooze button -- I kept hitting it and thus wouldn't have time to spend in devotions with God before I left for work. 40 days - no snooze button...painful fasting..."this much, O God, I want you!" More than sleep!
~ critical words - 40 days - no negative words, especially toward my husband -- Oh, how I wish those 40 days completely uprooted that ugly idol in my heart...why is my words being heard more important to me than having a tongue that honors Christ and honors the godly husband He united me with!?!
Last Sunday...nothing specific...my heart just recognized I needed more of God and less of me...the Holy Spirit brought fasting to mind and thus no food was the way for God to win my heart back to Himself. I couldn't use the excuse of pregnancy or nursing, which I would have been able to much of the last 4 and a half years. And so it was, a day of Hunger for God. Craving more of Him.
And the result this week? Nothing dramatic. There have been much distractions with company, but a sweet reminder in the times of feeling distant from my LORD..."That much, O God, I do want you that much!"
Abstaining in order to gain...no food, more of God --> God's economy.
Abide in Love ~ Abound in Thanksgiving ~ Work in Joy...
Live Fully ~ Suffer Rightly ~ Trust Deeply ~ Bless Truly!
LISTEN & LEARN:
"Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths,
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long."
~ Psalms 25:4,5