Wednesday

I don't like fasting.

 

I have a confession to make. 

I don’t like fasting. 

And to be honest, part of the reason I don’t like fasting is because I like food. I enjoy it so much that the 21st century has coined a new word to describe me: 
 
• food•ie   n. fóodee somebody who enjoys good food: an enthusiast of cooking, eating, or shopping for good food. 

Because of my greater-than-average dependence on food and my need to eat every few hours, my daughter fondly calls me The Toddler. Nicknames notwithstanding, everyone knows where to come if they need a peanut butter cracker or a bite-sized candy bar. I always have one stashed in my purse in case of emergency. 

This is why I struggle with fasting—I like food, and I don’t enjoy being hungry. God designed my body to prompt itself to eat, and when I intentionally ignore these rumblings and deprive myself of nutrition, it protests. Quite loudly and insistently sometimes. I also don’t enjoy the weak, light-headed feeling that usually accompanies a fast. Or the headache and overall grumpy feelings. 

But as much as I enjoy food and the comfort of a full belly, there’s something I love more. Something I need more, too—God’s power. 

Theologian Andrew Murray said it best. “Fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.” 

When I fast and pray, I say to God, “I want your power in this area of my life more than I desire food.” 

Jesus affirmed that there would be a time for fasting. “The time will come,” he said, “when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast” (Mark 2:19-20). 

During Christ’s life on earth, when his disciples needed his help or wisdom, they simply went to him and asked. Believers today can’t physically stand in his presence or kneel at his feet to present our petitions. And while we can boldly approach the throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16), we sometimes struggle to see his face and hear his voice. 



Fasting clears the glass, sets aside distractions, and presses us into the arms of Christ. Experiencing physical weakness helps us realize how spiritually weak we truly are. It is only when I realize my helplessness that I am able to make room for God to work in my prideful, self-sufficient heart. 

Hudson Taylor, missionary to China, described fasting in this way: “In Shansi I found Chinese Christians who were accustomed to spending time in fasting and prayer. They recognized that this fasting, which so many dislike, which requires faith in God, since it makes one feel weak and poorly, is really a divinely appointed means of grace. Perhaps the greatest hindrance to our work is our own imagined strength; and in fasting we learn what poor, weak creatures we are-dependent on a meal of meat for the little strength which we are so apt to lean upon." 

Scripture gives several reasons to fast. Seeking God’s power and favor (Mat. 6:16-18, Mat. 17:21), asking for forgiveness and healing (Dan. 9:3), and gaining wisdom and direction (Acts 14:23) are a few of the most common. 

I find myself fasting and praying most for God’s supernatural work in my children’s lives. More than just about anything, I desire for my daughters, son-in-law, and grandchild love and honor God all the days of their lives. I want this badly enough to fast for it. And seek God in prayer for it every day. And be such an example of peace and joy that they will want to know and love my Savior. 

What do you want more than anything? 

If it’s a desire that aligns itself with God’s will, have you considered fasting and praying for it? 

It’s important to understand that fasting isn’t an attempt to manipulate God into doing something he’s unwilling to do. Instead, it is setting aside distractions in order to seek God’s will and power in a certain situation. By giving up food, media, or, as one friend did, her once-a-day Coke habit, we give up what is dear, and sometimes even vital, in the hope of gaining something even greater. 

 “A fast is not a hunger strike,” Author Ed Cole says. “Fasting submits to God's commands. A hunger strike makes God submit to our demands. 

When we fast, we say, “Not my will, but yours, Lord.”

 If you’ve never fasted before or if it’s been a while, if something’s lying heavy on your heart, I encourage you to try this age-old discipline. If you’re like me, you might not like it, but you may come to love it. 

Have you practiced the discipline of fasting? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below and share with our sweet community.

*If you'd like to learn more about fasting, there are many great books on the subject.  May I recommend A Hunger for God: Desiring God Through Fasting and Prayer by John Piper, David Platt, and Francis Chan and The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast by Kristen Feola.



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9 comments:

  1. Thank you, Lori, for an excellent reminder of good reasons to fast! I find it ironic, though, that your point about setting aside distractions is placed next to a very attractive plate of food. LOL I am sure I will keep this post and return to it for strength to obey God's call to fast when I want to argue with Him because I too dislike fasting and my enemy comes and says, "did God really say..." "is this really what God expects of you..."

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  2. I tried fasting once, but I didn't like feeling light-headed. I may give it another try after reading your post. The very reasons I don't want to fast are the reasons FOR fasting. Thanks for the encouragement!

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  3. Excellent article and a great reminder of why we need to deny ourselves.

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  4. It's so move hear someone else struggles with fasting though they know the power. Thanks for the confirmation that I need to fast to seek God's insight/will.

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    1. Tikeisha,
      I am right there with you. Just yesterday, God reminded me that certain strongholds can only be broken by fasting and praying.Though I know I'm hearing from him, it's still a struggle to deny ourselves. But when we want God's power more than anything, it's a sacrifice we make. May God bless you as you seek him.

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    2. Fasting has never been my strong suit and you hit all the nails on the head concerning reasons not wanting to fast but you're right it is necessary and based on your testimony I am going to try it again. Because although I'm a foodie as well I love God more!!!

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    3. I have never liked fasting for all of the exact same reasons that you've described. I am a Foodie to my name! I love to eat! I enjoy good foods and sweets!! Fasting has never been my strong suite. I hate the headaches and the nausea along with the lightheaded feeling and most of all the hunger pains are a killer. After reading your testimony I'm going to try it again because I do love GOD MORE THAN FOOD!!! THANKS 4 SHARING!!!

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    4. For me, Denise, it's a step of obedience. I know God wants me to want his power to tear down strongholds in my loved ones's lives. By denying something temporary in favor of something eternal, I show my faith. I know God is pleased with this, and I believe he is using my prayers to accomplish his will. I pray he will be similarly at work in your life also.

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