The Pre-Fast

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I have never fasted before, which I am suddenly very ashamed to say. Though it is not explicitly commanded, Jesus clearly expects this spiritual discipline from his followers. I did this in response to a 2-week call to fast from the Makua team in order to pray that the “giants” in Mozambique may be defeated. I must also admit that I entered this fast in ignorance of what fasting really is. I have fasted after 5:00pm for 4 days now, but I have decided tonight to gradually lessen my food intake and spend the second week in a complete fast, drinking only water. I have made a schedule to follow as I lessen my meals and intensify my fast, but the fact that I have never truly fasted before probably makes this rather big step (or massive leap) a little more difficult. Luckily God is my sustenance – not food.

This has been a very spiritually uplifting week for me so far – though I don’t know that it had anything to do with me skipping dinner. Sunday I returned to Searcy with hopes of reestablishing my faith, which I have let fade for the past couple months. Sunday was also the beginning of my fast and I spent the Arkansas-portion of my drive in praise and in prayer for the nation of Mozambique.

Meditation Scripture: Philippians 4

Meditation Song: My Desire by Jeremy Camp

Monday began with a newly installed 10-minute time for scripture reading. After classes I met with Robin, a senior missionary in Botswana, who told of some of the incredible things God is doing throughout Africa, and also encouraged me to stick with my business degree, which I had been debating leaving behind. I then went to the pizza ministry at the nearby trailer park, which was very joy-filling. Unfortunately after that everybody wanted to go to Zaxby’s so I watched everyone eat delicious chicken as I sipped my water, but was careful to not acknowledge that everything in me wanted chicken. At that same meal I discovered that the teammates I thought would be joining me in this fast had forgotten about it and would not be participating. But no matter I know I have solidarity with the Makua team & many who have joined in the fight against the giants. Monday was dedicated to prayer for the Makua people.

Meditation Scripture: Philippians 4

Tuesday was spent in increased meditation, especially on John 8. Of course, I was invited to dinner again, but I withstood temptation to break through accountability of my friends and the reminders of the Holy Spirit. Tuesday’s prayers concerned unfaithfulness in the Makua people, as well as a worsening illness with my teammate.

Meditation Scripture: John 8.1-10

Today, Wednesday, was spent in increased praise meditation and thanksgiving, which had a lot to do with the fact that today is Harding’s “Say Thanks Day.” I spent more time in John 8, but the temptation to eat has gotten a little bit stronger. Today I also read more on fasting, which has helped me better understand what I’m doing and convicted me to intensify my fast and reevaluate the spiritual aspect of it. Prayers today were for the specific unreached people groups of Mozambique.

In this short time of meal fasting I have already learned so much. Regarding my eating habits I’ve discovered how much I eat out of boredom and how often I seek food, but truly desire water. Spiritually I have been surprised by my discipline. Self-control and restraint have always been a sore spot in my spiritual walk, but thanks to what could only be the Holy Spirit, I haven’t given in even once. However, I do know I’ll have to take stronger action as my fast and temptation intensifies. If nothing else my current fast has been a great reminder to pray without ceasing, study Scripture, and meditate upon it. I hunger for food but have discovered a greater hunger for the Word.

Meditation Scripture: John 8.1-10

Meditation Song: How Great is Our God

Thursday March 21, 2013

Satan is a crafty guy. I mean really, you should see what he can do with a baked potato. It seems Ive become significantly more popular since spring break because people have invited me to dinner every night this week. Luckily, God has been heaping out the self-control as well.

Today felt very physical. Since I decided to start taking steps toward a total fast, all I can think about is food: when I can eat next and what will I eat. But despite this head game there is something else physical that I’ve noticed – I’m not hungry. I don’t crave the food because my body needs it, I crave it to fulfill a want. Whether it’s for the taste, the instant gratification, or the sake of social norms, I think we have an overwhelming desire to eat for satisfaction, not survival.

Sin is not so different. We crave it for no reason. We see it or smell it and we can’t get it out of our brains. We have trained ourselves to act as if we needed it. We live in a place that mindlessly gorges. But to paraphrase C.S. Lewis, the man who gives in immediately knows not the strength it takes to withstand 5 minutes.

Meditation: Psalm 46

Friday March 22, 2013

Today was my final lunch. I’ve gone from no food after 5:00pm down to no food after 11:00am and tomorrow I go down to just breakfast. Technically I should have eaten lighter, healthier meals, but my dorm room supplies put me in a bit of a bind, so basically I’ve been trying to eat everything that will go bad soon. I barely noticed not eating today. I haven’t been hungry all day. It has been invaluable to realize the difference between being hungry and just wanting food, because most of the time I just want food, but don’t need it. Supplementing my cravings with water has helped a lot. Boredom is definitely what triggers a lot of my desire to eat, so while fasting I’m going to make a special effort to not be in the dorm, be busy, or be asleep. Rest serves a twofold purpose when fasting: it is essential to do since your body will be weaker and needs to store energy, and it’s an excellent way to eliminate temptation for a little bit.

Today I focused on Isaiah 58, which is a passage I stumbled across in class. It’s heading, “True & False Fasting,” caught my eye, so I began to dig a little deeper. Interestingly enough, it didn’t say anything about food. The prophet spoke to the people, telling them that they were exploiting the fast, using it for personal gain rather than to the glory of God. They wanted some spiritual satisfaction or an answered prayer. But that’s not what fasting is about. You are not the center of fasting – God is. Fasting is about emptying yourself of the desires of the flesh (even what’s considered its basic need) and allowing God to fill the emptiness. But it doesn’t stop there. Fasting empties us so that God may overflow from us and that we may richly pour onto others. But when we commit to this type of true fast and let God overwhelm us and when our will is aligned with his, that is when he hears our prayer and answers swiftly. Today’s prayers for Mozambique concern a not so distant topic: alcoholism. As I struggle against my desires for food I have solidarity with the Makua people struggling against their desire for alcohol. But like food, it is not a constant necessity, but merely a distraction, a way to avoid the boredom.

I’m nervous about the coming week. I’m nervous that I won’t be able to do it. I’m nervous that I’ll give in. But all things are possible through God who strengthens me. He is my fortress and I hope that his unshakeableness is manifested in my spirit this week.

Meditation: Isaiah 58

Saturday March 23, 2013

I had my last meal this morning. Tomorrow I am doing juice only all day, then juice for half a day, and then the real fast begins. I’m nervous, especially after my suitemate voiced her concern and said that this might be a little dangerous and that I shouldn’t feel guilty about eating if I need to. I’m afraid that I’m going to start and give up on the first day. It’s a legitimate fear, because that’s what would do. That’s why I have to give up control to the one who can persevere difficulty, the one that can deny human desires, and the one that can be completely humbled and completely emptied. But I know I’m not going to be able to do this if I don’t put more focus on God. Today I know I didn’t  commune with God as I should, which has left me both physically and spiritually empty tonight.

But I did read the chapter on prayer in Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline today and I saw that so much of prayer is asking in complete faith that it will happen because your will is aligned with God’s. I pray that God reveals himself to me during this fast and that through prayer I may better understand him, be further molded in his likeness, and that my will may be the same as his so that my prayers may be powerful because he is powerful. Today I pray for godly leadership to rise in Mozambique, and I pray that it will happen swiftly so that more souls may be kept from the evils that haunt Mozambicans, the corruption and immorality that is instilled in them, and the fear that grows daily in them. I pray that godly leaders may rise and lead their people out of darkness and into the glorious light of God’s throne.

Meditation: Deuteronomy 8.1-10

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