"Fasting helps us keep our balance in life. How easily we being to allow nonessentials to take precedence in our lives. How quickly we crave things we do not need until we are enslaved by them"
I have to be honest here. I've tried fasting before. However, I don't know that I've ever done it successfully. "In Scripture the normal means of fasting involved abstaining from all food, solid or liquid, but not from water." I tend to have a problem with setting, in retrospect, unrealistic personal goals for myself and really getting down about it. When I first read Foster's section of fasting I thought about going on a 21 day food fast all together. (yikes) After some prayer and intelligent thinking I came back down to the realization that I didn't have to go that extreme starting out. In fact Foster discourages me from doing so. He believes that starting out in a 24 hour period fasting is generally easiest from "lunch-to-lunch". This would mean that breakfast would be eaten on the first day and dinner the second. Fasting can also be done in short periods. I've known men to fast a single meal in a day to spend that time in prayer over a decision they needed to make or a need that needed meeting.
The first experience I ever had with fasting came through a friend of mine named Abby who in our middle school years after a youth camp decided that God was calling her to go on a 40 Day Food Fast. Abby was and is a smaller girl. There wasn't much weight to her and I remember thinking that this food fast might kill her. I couldn't help but be so absolutely perplexed as to how someone could go without eating for 40 Days. She did it. All 40 Days. She drank water and took some vitamin supplements as recommended by her doctor but she did it. This inspired me then as it does now. "In most cases fasting is a private matter between the individual and God. There are, however, occasional times of corporate or public fasts." There were times in the history of Liberty University's formative years in which founder Jerry Falwell called the student body to fast for certain things. I'm sad to not have been a part of some of those years and stories but, I rejoice in what God has done because of those times of fasting and praying for His work to be done.
Is fasting commanded? It seems that in Jesus teaching on the Sermon on the Mount that "giving prating and fasting are all part of Christian devotion. We have no more reason to exclude fasting from the teaching than we do giving or praying." "Jesus stated, "When you fast..." (Mt. 6:16). He seemed to make the assumption that people would fast, and what was needed was instruction on how to do it properly."
Are people who fast closer to God? I'm not sure to be honest. I don't think it makes anyone more "holy or righteous" than anyone else but, there is something to be said of denying yourself the basic needs of life to rely exclusively on being "fed" by God's voice and your time spent with Him. It's important to remember that fasting should never be done out of vain reasons (wanting to loose weight) but out of a specific desire or event to be prayed over. Fasting is a way to help show God we're serious about our prayers. We're willing to work towards the completion of the things we're asking Him to help us do rather than sitting back, "rubbing the lamp" and waiting for our "God Genie" to arrive, snap his fingers, and give us our three wishes. We must be willing to move into action. Fasting helps communicate our seriousness if not truly instill it in our own hearts and minds.
I will be taking part in 3 partial fasts over the next few days. Normally I'd keep these times to myself and private as I spoke of earlier. It's merely for the purposes of this blog that I will include the details of my experiences. I will begin today by fasting one meal, lunch. I'll be heading down to the prayer room in the PowerSource room and spending about an hour in there praying for our student ministries staff meeting today. It's my desire to see God really move in the lives of our students. I would like God to reveal to us as a staff areas in which we can improve and how we can improve and maybe even where we need to get out of the way a little bit to let God be God.
My experience today has been a hungry one both physically and spiritually. I spent much of my lunch hour thinking about our staff meeting today and praying for clear minds and hearts. I headed down to the Living Proof room later than I had hoped. I got down there and opened my notebook to the list of the problems we had identified from the weeks before. It was a bit overwhelming. I spent the next few moments praying over those problems and our conversation to come. It felt good to be so focused on one thing as I prayed.
Our staff meeting went fairly well. We didn't solve the problems of the universe but, we weren't expecting to. Our conversation did seem fairly united on one thing. It was good to all be focused there. Not sure we made too much headway and I think these discussion will be going on for some time. It's my continued prayer we'll follow God's leading there.
To be honest I felt pretty attacked in the meeting early on and didn't say too much after but merely observed and took notes. There wasn't anything new for me to say that we weren't already discussing. I wonder if the attacks came because of me fasting or if it was something else. I take refuge and shelter in my God and King. I hold fast to Him.
I'm off to a bass lesson then home for a good bit of reading tonight.