I didn't really have a topic in mind for my Focus Friday this week. Usually I have something rattling around in my brain for most of the week and then it comes out on Friday sometime. This week, nothing.
Then I read a guest post by Susan Gregory on Ann Voskamp's site (www.aholyexperience.com). She wrote a wonderful post about finding hope by practicing "The Daniel Fast." I had heard of that before, but I had never tried it. I met some women at the Authentic Intimacy Conference who had done The Daniel Fast at the beginning of the new year and they had great things to say about it. Susan gave many examples of people who had found answers to prayer and gotten closer to God through this partial fast for 21 days. "Clinging to God through prayer and fasting helps keep hope alive."
I've always been intrigued with the discipline of fasting. I've read about it and tried short fasts before, but I've never embraced it fully. I sat in front of my computer and thought about things I've learned about fasting. I thought about times in the Bible where people had fasted before they made an important decision or needed wisdom for something major. I thought to myself, maybe I need to do something like that.
Almost immediately, I felt resistance in my heart. I clicked out of the post and got up. I went to the kitchen and fixed myself a cheese quesadilla for supper. I drank some root beer.Then I made a bowl of ice cream with sliced bananas and chocolate sauce. Then I rummaged around in the kitchen a little more and scooped up a cupful of chocolate chips and mindlessly ate them while I watched Wheel of Fortune.
Even as I ate, I was aware of the conflict in me. It was almost like my flesh was asserting itself: If you're even thinking about denying me whatever foods I want for 21 days, then I'm going to get all I can tonight. I don't care what you think. My brain reassured me: God loves you no matter what. You don't have to fast to get His love. Fasting isn't one of the ten commandments. You don't have to do it.
Now that I'm sitting down to write, I can see more clearly. I don't deny my flesh very often. I often eat whatever I feel like eating, whenever I want to eat it. Sometimes I hold off until I'm hungry, but often I just eat when I'm bored or stressed or upset.
Understand me as I write. I'm not trying to guilt all of you into fasting. I just want us to think about how we live. Are we feeding our bodies with too much food when we're really in need of more of God?
I like a quote that Susan Gregory had in her guest post: "I knew from personal experience about the power of fasting. I knew what it was like to be so hungry for more of God that the only way to be fed was to fast."
I'm going to think more about this discipline of fasting. I may even get to the point where I'm willing to give it a try someday. How about you?
"While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off." (Acts 13:2-3 NIV)
Have you ever practiced the discipline of fasting? How can focusing on God help you to consider saying "No" to your flesh and seek to be filled with God instead of just food?
*For more information about fasting, you can check out some of these resources:
http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/fasting-for-beginners - This looks like a great article to begin learning about and practicing fasting. You don't have to jump right into a 21 day partial fast.
www.daniel-fast.com - The Daniel Fast is a 21 day partial fast. This site has resources, recipes, and Susan's blog. I'm going to spend some more time here as I consider fasting.
https://www.cru.org/train-and-grow/spiritual-growth/fasting/personal-guide-to-fasting.html - I haven't read this series of articles yet, but Campus Crusade for Christ is a great organization. I think what they have to say will be worth reading.