Someone asked me yesterday why Fasting was so important.
Well, the wind was violent last night and turned over my trampoline in the back yard. We are trying to tie it down so it doesn't crash into the neighbor's house.
My car was wrecked yesterday. My daughter was 5 hours late getting back to college, 4am. My other daughter who wrecked the car is having health issues but going back to school with a very demanding week she cannot just stop. My hair is still falling out, my bank account is not always where I want it to be and my foster puppies seem to think going to bathroom in my house is an Olympic Sport.
One of my kids vomited at the neighbors house, I need glasses to read small print these days and my right knee really hurts when I run and twist on it.
I could go on and on.
But, how does this relate to Fasting.
These days and weeks will come and go. Drama, celebration, sadness, pain, prosperity, laughter, hate, joy, anger and confusion will always be with us. Life will move up and down, slow and fast, left and right.
But, when do we ever get intentional enough to focus on the giver of life, the creator of all? We know our problems well, our opinions, our ideas, our hurts, pains, successes and failures. We talk about them, think about them, work on them and become experts on them. But, when, just when do we say the truth about where we really are, even if we doubt or disbelieve, and when do we try to seek the one who has spoken the world into existence? When do we admit our dependence on the comfort life in this country allows us, with the love for our stuff and our pleasures, more than the one who gave us the freedom to enjoy those pleasures. Even if we struggle to believe, when do we stop to address the struggle.
Even if we don't know how, if we are not sure we believe, even if we are inexperienced at this level of purpose and focus, here are some reason to think about a dedicated time of prayer & fasting.
First: In general, some amount of fasting from foods has proven to be healthy and cleansing to our bodies, even at the cellular level. And, just look around, most of us could use some days passing by the drive thru - if you know what I mean. I seem to gain 2-3 pounds a year, and my body tells me it feels toxic, so general fasting helps me and you, to be more healthy. But, that's not why we are fasting.
Second: Fasting for some is a ritual, a tradition, a practice that fits inside a belief system that is usually religious in some way. There is meditation, sacrifice and focus that comes from these dedicated times of self denial, and for the value of turning away from indulgences to isolate, meditate and contemplate, I align. The religious motivation for me is different, meaning I fast not for tradition or to gain status or value, rather, I attempt to bring my religion to life, by passing on from words to actions.
Third: Most personally and importantly, the type of fasting we encourage is done in quiet, with personal dedication as it's primary goal. Not to get on the good side of God, but to get myself on the side of God. Not to earn the right to be holy, but to be holy. Not to please God by denying myself and causing myself displeasure, rather, to deny myself, incidentally, causing my flesh displeasure, only to find myself pleasing to the God I say I love and serve. It's personal. It's the opportunity to draw close, not unlike a honeymoon, a retreat, or sabbatical. It's a time to say no to the most earthly demands of my daily life, in order to say yes to the most divine and spiritual source of life to ever exist. Before I knew God, I would have discounted the idea and even mocked it. Today, after serving the God of the Bible, of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob, the God we call Elohim, Adonai, and Jehovah and the Son he sent to live, die and rise from the dead, for my salvation, the one we call Yeshua, Emmanuel & Jesus, for over 25 years, today, I still find myself desperate for his wisdom, grace, power and hope, I just want to spend time with HIM, HE is the reason.
HE is why it is so important to fast.
HE is the object of our affection.
HE is the source of our hope and encouragement.
HE is the center of our universe.
HE is the only compassionate savior.
HE is the prophet, priest, king, friend, teacher & redeemer.
HE alone is my God and Jesus is my Lord and the Spirit is my comforter, teacher, friend and power.
Knowing HIM and his fullness is the reason we fast.
Fourth: Yes, it's personal, but it's also corporate. Meaning this. We seek to know God more on a personal level, but we seek the move of God in our group, our city, our homes and our nation on a corporate level. As a people, a team, a church, or a family, we can harness the power of unity and collective focus to defeat the works of darkness and ignorance through seasons of desperate cries for help. We are not begging. God is not deaf to our prayers. However, the intense nature of fasting and prayer seems to have always been a way to create special attention to and from the God we together serve.
Historical Evidence of Fasting.
Joel 2:12 - God gives a people who are destructive and prideful an opportunity to receive compassion and mercy through brokenness and a changed heart. The prophet calls the people to "return" to God, with all their hearts and the process of focus would be with fasting, & weeping & mourning, not merely over the effects of sin, but over the heart of pride and wickedness they had developed.
Jonah 3:5-9 - A City is called to fast.
Matthew 6:16-18 - Correct ways to approach fasting.
Ezra 8:21-23 - Seeking God in Prayer
Daniel 9:3-5 - Seeking God through repentance
Nehemiah 1:4 - A response, turning toward God
Acts 14:23 - When making big decisions with spiritual authority needed
1 Corinthians 7:5 - For times of focus, managed properly
There are tens of thousands of documented moves of God in the world through a people who pray, fast and seek his will. I only hope to join the ranks of them who have seen God move in extraordinary power and love.
I'm just one man on the journey. A New Creation in Christ and I want to receive all God has for me and to be HIS instrument for life and change in the world of growing darkness. Use Me!!!
Billy Ramsdell @ ReImagine Church