I used to think I couldn’t fast! I thought I could not do without food or drink, or going out to eat, or watching TV, or…you fill in the blank! I had a lot of excuses. Then, 10 to 15 years ago Steve and I, in our quest to grow spiritually into a deeper and closer relationship with the Lord, decided maybe we should begin a fast. After all, the Bible in Matthew 6 told us about our duties as Christians: giving, praying and fasting. I must admit at first, it was always something we could easily "give up" for three, seven or even ten days without any problem. However, there was a HUGE problem, there was no real sacrifice on our part, no real exercise of our faith!
You see, we believe that fasting requires faith! Faith requires action! We can pray, but we must also put feet to our faith. It wasn't until we came to Central Baptist/Abba's House in 2003/2004 that we began to learn to truly FAST. Jentezen Franklin was here speaking at one of our conferences and I purchased his book on fasting. I still read it every year when we fast and God always unlocks something new and beautiful to me. Also, the teachings of Abba's House on fasting have helped me and Steve grow and deepen our trust and faith as we fast.
Steve and I choose to start each year with a 21 day Daniel Fast. Sometimes when God impresses him to, Steve will end the final 3 days with a water only fast. Even after many years of this discipline, I still have some of those thoughts like, “Oh boy, I am going to lose some of this weight!” (Oh get that look off your face, you know you have thought that too!) Prayer must be our focus, to be still and seek the Father! I have learned from my study on the subject that "Fasting helps you separate what you want from what you need. It causes you to focus on what really matters. (Jentezen Franklin)"
Yes, I will tell you honestly that at least for us, at first we had a list of a lot of wants that we brought before God. Then in those hours during the fast when it felt like the Father's breath was on my neck, I understood, fasting is not about wants, it’s about needing Him. My focus changed, our focus changed! Then the deep relationship with the Father comes.
First, I suggest that married couples decide together on what kind of fast you are going to do, agree on it, so that you are in unity. Individuals who are fasting should set personal guidelines, as you are led by the Holy Spirit. Setting those parameters in advance of your fast makes it easier to go into the fast with a clear personal expectation.
Second, be sure to keep a fasting journal. Write down what you want to see God do from the fast, and learn to pray specific prayers. For example, if you say “my Children” do you want to see them have better grades, be more respectful, etc." If you list, “my Church,” be specific with your request, new choir robes, new playground equipment, etc.
Over time, Steve and I have learned that if we prayed specifically, we could actually see God's answers much more clearly than when we prayed those broad prayers like “bless my family.” When we prayed those broad prayers, we were much more likely to say that God did not answer our prayers, because they were not specific.
Third, always go back with a red ink pen and write down beside the request how God answered the prayer, when he answered the prayer, and the date he answered. I must tell you, sometimes, even the date he answers can be a complete blessing. The Father amazes me!
Fourth, don’t get discouraged along the way if you are a couple of weeks in to a fast and you haven’t seen your prayers answered yet! Trust God to make it HAPPEN! If you’re tempted to throw in the towel and exchange the fast for a piece of bacon or a coke, be strong! Put on some praise music and worship him! Drink some water and pray until the temptation leaves!
Fifth, be prepared. Yes, it happens, you can’t avoid those parties, graduations, kids come home from college, old friends call and want to go out to eat, the Super Bowl, weddings, you get the idea. We always try to carry something we can eat with us just in case there is nothing available that fits within the guidelines of our chosen fast. But you know, when you really commit, HE IS FAITHFUL! He provides beautifully.
Recently, Steve and I were fasting, our LifeGroup, as we often do, went out together to share a meal. They all had YUMMY looking steaks and burgers! We ate salad & veggies. However, we were so blessed with the people God had put into our lives and were surrounded with love, laughter and fellowship, that the food we had was awesome!
During our most recent fast there was a day where I was really struggling and wanted to just throw in the towel. Instead, I drank some water and sat down and prayed. While I was praying, I heard my phone buzz, it was a text from my son, who was letting me know he had not one, but two job interviews coming up! Yes, this was on my prayer list! Don't give in, when you are tempted to quit, that is when you need to press in.
I believe God want us to act like he is going to answer our prayers and take that step of faith. He loves us to spend time with Him. Don't you love for your children or good friends to spend time with you? Once we learned to do a true 21 day Daniel Fast, where we spent time with the Father and it was no longer about anything else or what we were giving up, we began to see God do the impossible.
As a little encouragement, I will share a few answered prayers with you:
Health issues healed Devotion Time together
Home when we were homeless What Church to Serve in
Jobs Melanoma Healed
Raises Heart issues Healed
Debt Freedom Trip to Israel with Pastor
Family members saved Trip to Greece with Pastor
Family members off drugs
Most recently, we were praying in regards to the money for the Abba’s House children’s building renovation. I have already started writing some answers in red, thanking the Father for the money that has come in so far this year, thanking Him for the paint purchased to get the new offices ready to move staff so the work can begin in the children's department. We are also seeing God moving in some of the other areas we have before him. God is at work.
My final thought is that God’s timing is perfect! Just because you do not see an answer during your fast does not mean the Father is not going to answer your prayer. Stay alert, fit and ready for service. The enemy is always at work. When we fast, pray and put on the whole armor of God, we can withstand the attacks of the enemy and be victorious.
In His Grace,
Do you have a story to tell? Click here to share.