It’s now day 6 of the 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting our church does, along with countless others across the nation, and it’s my 10th time to participate. The first few years that we participated, if you really wanna call it participation, we gave up things like soda and chocolate. We prayed, but put very little effort into it, if I can be honest. We didn’t really understand it therefore we didn’t get a whole lot out of it. Then came a year that we did get serious about it and desired to really fast. We did the Daniel fast. We poured ourselves into it, dotting every “i” and crossing every “t.” We noted everything we could eat and also everything we couldn’t.
It was hard. Really hard. We missed our normal diet and pouted about the only stuff we could have to satisfy our hunger. Sure, we prayed and participated in the prayer meetings, but at the end of that 21 Days, we mostly came away from it a few pounds lighter and had little revelation. What’d we do wrong??? We just denied our bodies and cravings of all the good food we so enjoyed for 21 days so we could be blessed! Why didn’t we hear angels singing around us and have journals full of revelations God had divinely spoken to us in the midst of our fast???
I’ll tell you what we did wrong. We were focused more on WHAT we were fasting instead of WHY we were fasting. We got so wrapped up in the guidelines and rules of what we could and couldn’t have, and being miserable about it, that we missed the whole purpose of why we were doing it. We were new to this game, and there were some lessons to be learned. I’m thankful for that. We had a mindset that we were doing this for God. NEWSFLASH!!!! It isn’t for Him!!!
Fasting doesn’t benefit God, nor is it “for” Him! It’s for us! We’re the ones who gain from doing this. It’s not required of us, but so necessary when pursuing a deeper personal relationship with the only One who deserves all we have to give and who loves us unconditionally. The point is to deny your flesh/body/mind of things that you normally wouldn’t; setting aside other things that tend to get our focus, attention and/or dependency a lot of the time, and devote it all to hearing God’s voice speaking to us. He’s always talking to us but majority of the time we can’t hear him because of everything else going on around us. It’s easier to hear Him when we’re intentional to silence everything else. Not that enjoying other things is wrong, but making sure we acknowledge the importance of tuning out the world on occasion or more in order to hear God’s voice is so imperative. It’s also a great opportunity to reflect and see if anything may be taking too much of our time, attention and dependency and then making certain necessary changes.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalms 139:23-24
However, we must not get legalistic about it. Otherwise, we’ll miss the purpose and blessing of this beautiful challenge, which is to grow in our walk with our Savior to get closer to Him, gain greater eternal perspective in which nothing else can compare; not to deprive ourselves of worldly pleasures as punishment. We have to focus on WHY we do it, and not focus on what we “can’t do,” nor should we feel guilty or condemned if we “slip” because there’s grace and it’s about the heart. God looks at the heart. We also shouldn’t fast just to fast, or make a big deal about how hard our fast is and how much we’re fasting. It’s not about what or how much one gives up, but about hearing the voice of God.
Your Turn: Have you fasted before? Are you fasting during these 21 days? Have you had moments where you were more focused on what you were fasting rather than why? What is your perspective? We’d love to hear from you! Please share with us below. ~ Heather