As Americans, to give up our beloved food from sun down to sun down is not an easy task. When it comes to fasting, my friend Diet Coke is hands down the hardest thing to deny myself for 24 hours! But how hungry for God are we?
When our soul aches, our daily to-do list is a mile long and we can’t hear God over the noise of our technology then what?
Maybe it’s time we fast.
Fasting is a spiritual discipline that feeds our soul while we starve our body. Every time our mind signals “I want food” it’s a signal to pray.
John Piper writes in A Hunger For God: “When midmorning comes and you want food so badly that the thought of lunch becomes as sweet as summer vacation, then suddenly you realize, “Oh, I forgot, I made a commitment. I can’t have that pleasure. I’m fasting for lunch too.” Then what are you going to do with all the unhappiness inside? Formerly, you blocked it out with the hope of a tasty lunch. The hope of food gave you the good feelings to balance out the bad feelings. But now the balance is off. You must find another way to deal with it.”(pg.20)
Fasting is a servant. In its quiet moments, it brings out your soul’s struggles. The hope of a bag of chips or a gallon of ice cream to drown your sorrows out is stripped away and you find yourself raw before God’s throne.
On days of fasting for me, I do not watch any television and have minimal computer time or texting. Sometimes I do it with friends, so we will text and email each other encouragement. But otherwise, it’s a quiet day. There is nothing and no one to conceal my dark feelings and it is there, before God’s throne, that I find time and time again, indeed God is enough.
In the Bible, we see many great men and women of God participating in fasting and prayer. There’s David (2 Sam. 12:16), All the Jews for Esther (Esther 4:16), Ezra (Ezra 8:21-23), Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:4) and of course Jesus, our ultimate example, in the wilderness for 40 days (Matt. 4:2).
Have you ever gone on a fast? If you have not, here’s a few tips.
- Start with a 24 hour period. (do not fast if you are pregnant or have a medical condition that requires a special diet)
- Look at your calendar and pick a day where you are home most of the day.
- I like to go from sundown to sundown, which means an early supper in the winter time on day 1 but the next evening it is such a joy to break the fast with family!
- Fasting is not to impress God or others. Fasting was created by God as a tool to bring us into a closer relationship with him.
- Without prayer, fasting is simply a diet. You must commit to praying and meditating.
- As a homeschooler, I usually lighten our class load and have the kids join me in some of my prayers. I also try to line up quiet activities for them to do so I can break away for pockets of prayer times. I will admit, lunch time and afternoon snack time can be a beast but you can do it!
Are you hungry for God?
“Sometimes you are so hungry, the only way to be fed is to fast.”Susan Gregory writer of The Daniel Fast
By Courtney, Women Living WellLeave a Comment
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Something to think about~thanks.
I did my first “real” fast (more than just one meal) for two days with my husband over New Years Eve/New Years Day and it was the best experience I have ever had with God. As blessed as we are in this country I hate to even call a 2-day fast “suffering”, but that is truly the closest I have come to sharing in Christ’s sufferings outside of relational struggles. I actually desire that suffering now because I felt so close to God and am working on setting up another fast. Thanks for writing about something that seems to be kind of “taboo” these days!
Thanks for sharing … an important “discipline” that we often neglect, but such a powerful time of connecting with God, and quieting ourselves so that we can hear His heart. So, so valuable when we take time for this, especially in times when we desperately need God’s direction …
Jenni Saake "InfertilityMom" says
I cannot fast from food for medical reasons. (I’ve tried twice and gotten myself into medical crisis both times.) I recently cut our sugar for a month, but that also was for medical reasons and you are right, I didn’t always use those cravings to drive me to God, so it turned out to be more diet that spiritual discipline. For me the computer is my escape, so when God reminds me that I need to crave Him more, my sacrifice is to turn off the computer and walk away. It may not be a big thing to others, but I feel the hurt there more than I do with food and it reminds me of my dependence on the Lord. It’s been a while since I’ve done that – thanks for the reminder and challenge. 🙂
Courtney – this may not be a popular subject, but it is so very important to our relationship with Jesus. Thanks for the encouragement to make sacrifices to clearly hear Him!
Love your heart, girl!
Jen B says
Thanks for the encouragment. Fasting is something that I’ve been curious about this past year. I think it’s often done and prayer is forgotten. I like to spend meal times in prayer when I’m fasting.
Hi Courtney. So nice to see you on in courage!
Ive been contemplating fasting lately- it looks like John Piper may have some good resources so I’ll do some more research there aswell.
Thank you Courtney, this was such a timely message for me!
“But how hungry for God are we?” What a great question to reflect on Courtney. Thank you for these wonderful tips and encouragement!
Darlene Schacht says
I love how you say, fasting isn’t to impress God. All we do should be an attitude of worship with a heart for serving.
I have just revisited Piper’s book and have been reading it the past few weeks. I fasted the other day from sundown to sundown and was so encouraged by the simplicity of it. It sharpened my focus. It made me aware of the areas where I lack self-control. And since I knew I get snippy when I am hungry, it prepped me to have a good attitude in the same I way I prep my kids when we are on our way to church and they need to exhibit self-control by sitting still. I am so encouraged that you are blogging about it and that it is tool to knowing God better. It is a way, as Piper says, “to starve the sin.” Thank you for writing about it even though it isn’t a very popular topic in our Western churches.
What a beautifully written reminder, and timely! Our church plant will be fasting together for the next 24 hours starting at sundown tonight. It is encouraging to be doing it together as the body of Christ and we’re psyched to see more of God.
I love the sundown to sundown idea – I had never thought of that, but it would be a lovely way of breaking the fast and still getting 24 hrs in!
I’d like to recommend a book to you that may help you with this spiritual discipline. It’s called Fast Living by Scott C. Todd. (not living in a hurry, but “fast” as in spiritual practice). You quoted Isaiah 58, which says that one reason we fast is not just to get closer to God, but to share our food with the hungry. If we fast and pray, and follow what Isaiah 58 says, we can change the plight of those who suffer in extreme poverty. Here’s a link to the Facebook page for the book: https://www.facebook.com/live58 Fasting doesn’t just change us, it has potential to change the world!
Roger H Frost says
Pray without ceasing: even in a crowd of familiar surroundings. Even in a native land that is deep rich in Christian History. Even in a land rich in History of plenty supplied by the grace and mercy of the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob.