“Fasting without prayer is just a diet…”

I’m preparing to speak at a missions conference this weekend. One of the seminars I’m hosting is on ‘changing the nations through prayer and fasting’.

In an hour. Wow.

Where do you even start?

So, I’ve been praying through a whole range of material today as I finalise which points to include, which illustrations to add, and where God wants to lead this session to.

And I’m getting really excited!

I love the title quote for today’s blog.

I love it because it makes me laugh.

I love it because it sums up the battle that goes on when we fast. That challenge of putting ourself in a place of voluntary weakness, so that we can lean on Jesus.
So that we can pray.
So that we can humble of our hearts in order that they become sensitive to Holy Spirit and that we begin to walk out with a greater revelation and intimacy.
So that we can see God break out in our families, and cities and nations.

People often wrongly think that fasting is a ‘super-spiritual’ activity reserved for a few ‘holy’ elite. But fasting is a normal part of a healthy Christian lifestyle. Jesus said, ‘When you fast… your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly’ (Matthew 6 v 17-18). This is NOT radical Christianity. It’s part of our everyday life.

Or it should be.

And that’s a challenge to me. I don’t know about anyone else?

I hear so many young people and adults talk about fasting as if it’s something they could never do, or that it’s something irrelevant or merely about accessing some kind of distant spiritual realm. But fasting flows from the place of prayer and is connected to issues of justice (Isaiah 58), breakthrough (Acts 10), and revelation (Daniel 9 – 10).

It changes our hearts.

And it impacts our everyday-walking-around-living-out-for-God lives.

I also hear a lot of people say, ‘Oh no, I’m not good at that’.

Good.

I’m no good at it either.

Who is naturally good at fasting? I mean, really? Who is?

Not me!

It takes grace, and every time we fast, we need to ask for grace. Some people think the grace to fast means that they’ll never be hungry and they’ll never be weak. But that’s not it! The grace to fast means your resolve is greater than your desire to quit. Fasting food puts us in a place of voluntary weakness. We choose to lean on Him.

I once met a pretty-bizarre man who claimed to fast for long periods of time (always be aware of people who boast about being able to fast for long periods of time publically…). Upon further conversation, it became apparent that he actually just liquidized the exact same food that his family were eating at every meal time and drank it in sludge form. Now, that isn’t placing yourself in a position of weakness to lean upon Abba. THAT IS NOT FASTING. To be honest, that’s just a bit weird. And gross.

Whenever I start a fast, and I mean whenever, I am immediately tempted by a whole onslaught of foods that I never even normally eat. Like, I’m meant to be fasting, but I’m suddenly craving a McDonald’s cheeseburger (and I haven’t had one of them since I was about 16).

What is with that?

And I need grace. Grace to press into the place of prayer. Grace to lean upon Jesus. Grace to read the Word and see what He wants me to take. Grace to take the opportunities He gives. Grace to get up when I fail, and realise that I have to look at the fruit of a fasted lifestyle in the impact of years, rather than the quick days and weeks that I want.

I remember one of my best friends once called a week on international prayer and fasting for a group of about 10 of his friends. They lived in 4 different countries. They would unite in prayer over a particular issue, and fast together for a 5 day period. Brilliant.

Day 1. He came into the office eating a bacon sandwich. ‘Aren’t you meant to be fasting?’, I innocently asked. ‘Oh rubbish!’, he replied (I think his response might have actually been a little more extreme than that!) 🙂

Day 2: My friend is offered a cookie by a young person. He takes one bite and then exclaims, ‘Not again! I’m meant to be fasting!! I’m so rubbish at this!!’

Day 3: Same situation. This time with a pack of rolos.

Day 4: He visits a elderly friend and they have gone to great effort to make him his favourite soup. He feels that it would be really rude and offensive to not have any, so forgoes bread but eats the soup. He feels a bit guilty about it though.

Day 5: SUCCESS!!

Do you know what, that story is pretty funny. My friend finished the week and felt like a bit of a fraud for being the one to call the whole prayer and fasting week in the first place. But, prayers were prayed and breakthrough was gained that week.

And I can’t help but feel that God was pleased. Because He saw the heart.
He saw the desire.
And even in weakness, He heard the prayers that were prayed and the tears that were cried, and He gave the grace to keep going.

So, more than our regulations, and formulas, God wants our hearts. Humble and responsive. Striving for Him.

Praying and fasting.

Oh Papa, give us the grace to press in, the vision to see with your eyes, and the perseverance to keep going.

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