lessons learned from fasting

The church we attend started thirty days of fasting. I just completed Week 1.

This isn’t a “don’t eat anything for thirty days” (thankfully). Instead it gives recommendations for each day–fast one meal, fast two meals, fast from technology, etc.

Some things I’ve learned about fasting:

  1. Most people don’t like fasting.
  2.  Many feel they can’t fast from food. Dizziness, headaches, and other ill effects seem to be common side effects.
  3. Jesus seems to indicate that fasting will be a regular component of the Christian life. (Matt 6:16-18)
  4. The fact that fasting makes me weak and needy is probably a large part of the point. Every time my stomach growls, every time I shake or feel faint and foggy, I am reminded of how utterly dependent I am on God. I am reminded of how much I need Him and His provision.
  5. Fasting doesn’t obligate God to do anything for us–but sometimes He does choose to honor our dedication and grant our requests.

By the end of the second day, I was pretty much falling apart. In attempting to prepare supper, I spilled beans, milk, pasta water, and finally the pasta itself.

And then I swore. A lot. Fasting certainly wasn’t making me holy.

But isn’t that the very heart of the gospel? I’m weak, I’m a mess, I’m falling apart, and I’m far from holy.

And God is there in the mess and the muck, redeeming and providing and sustaining.

It made me think of the song “If I Stand” by Rich Mullins. If we stand, if we manage to obey or to be holy, it’s because God is working in us. And when we blow it (when, not if), He’s there with the same grace that saved us in the first place. Either way, it’s all about

Him. It’s all through Him and because of Him.

And if you’re wondering about point #5 up there–God did answer part of a prayer I’ve been praying for about six years now. No idea on when the rest of that prayer might get answered (if it does at all), but it was still pretty neat to see a piece of it answered in the midst of a time of fasting and seeking Him.

how to get your kids excited about Bible study

IMG_0861

I had a post planned for today. It’s partly written.

It will have to appear later this week. It’s been preempted.

The church we attend is doing a period of prayer and fasting. Each day has various instructions–fast from one meal, fast from non-work-related technology, fast a certain number of hours.

I don’t do overly well with fasting, but I’m doing my best and participating as much as I can or with modifications.

As a result, my girls have seen me missing meals and doing extra time in Bible study.

I had a birthday recently and used some gift card credit to order some pens and highlighters designed for those thin Bible pages. They don’t bleed through. I’ve had my current Bible long enough that it’s a little late to address this, but it’s still nice to have good supplies.

The highlighters

The pens

Both girls have been intrigued by the new tools. Today Sarah (age 10) asked if she could use the highlighters in her own Bible as she studied.

Then she asked how I used them, what I marked.

We talked about the importance of observation, interpretation, and application–and the importance of that order.

IMG_0860

I don’t know how I managed to take a mirror-image photo. It looks weird! Sorry about that!

I had grabbed this book at a homeschool sale a couple of years ago. Today I pulled it out. Sarah really wanted to read the whole thing in one sitting and absorb all there was to know about Bible study at once. I told her she couldn’t eat the whole elephant in one go and added that even though I’ve been at this for years, I’m still learning new things about Bible study and about the Bible itself.

And that’s the point.

So she did the first lesson. And she’s excited to do more. She wants to do her Bible study at the table each morning, just like her mom.

Natalie (6) pulled out a Bible of her own and had me read a few verses to her so that she could highlight as well.

I’m crying. It’s true what they say–it’s caught rather than taught. I myself caught the Bible study bug from my dad years ago. (Thanks, Dad!)

“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as [b]frontals [c]on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut. 6:4-9, NASB)

The Lord passed before him, and proclaimed,

“The Lord, the Lord,
a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger,
and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation (Exodus 34:6-7a, NRSV)

Disclosure: Links are affiliate links.