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.