“Dennis, you must learn to fast. Fasting will make you aware of my presence and God will grant you power for ministry.” My trust was exceedingly high in those who taught me that I would become closer to God and be more aware of His presence. I wanted the power of God manifested in my life and others. No doubt exists in my mind that was true for those who taught me about fasting as a young man working at our local Piggly Wiggly.
However, my experience was completely different! Instead of being more aware of God, I was more aware of every box of Hamburger Helper, Sugar Pops, and POP Tarts that called to me in the grocery store. I don’t even like Hamburger Helper! Yet on those Wednesdays when I was fasting, I craved, I imagined, I could taste hot ground beef and noodles in a chemically enhanced sauce! This was not the way fasting was supposed to work. I pathetically drove home at night thinking of how hungry I was and how I was “sufferin for Jesus!”
I eventually learned to laugh at myself. Proverbs 17:22 is good medicine for me. “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” I laughed because I was becoming aware of how powerful the cravings of my body are. My hunger cravings desired every food that my eyes saw and my nose smelled. I could smell a hamburger joint a mile away. Really, that is so funny to me now, to realize how easily my cravings could manipulate or control me.
So why continue fasting? Jesus said, “When you practice some appetite-denying discipline [fasting] to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won’t make you a saint. If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well.” (Matthew 6:17-18, Message)
God has been true to His Word. He has rewarded me and so many others. Here is a short list of what I have gained from fasting.
1. A much better focus on our Heavenly Father when I pray.
2. A sad and humble acknowledgment of how much my cravings still affect me.
3. The lesson that I don’t need as much as I think; especially when it comes to food.
4. A deeper sense of gratitude for God’s blessings and provision.
5. A sense of victory over my appetites.
As we begin our 40 Day Fast allow me to remind you choose something to fast from for the season. It might be meats and sweets, bread, soft drinks, or social media or television. Choose at least one meal or one day if your health allows and fast from all food, drink water and use that time for prayer and intercession for others. Each Sunday, we celebrate the resurrection of our LORD JESUS CHRIST! Sunday should not be a day of fasting. It’s a day for us to joyfully gather and worship our Lord together. So on that day eat, pray and love with your family and your family in Christ.
Our pastors will post Monday – Thursday a devotional at Woodland.Church to encourage you while you fast.