Written by: Nikki Laureano
Picture this. It’s Thanksgiving day. The smell of roasted turkey. The warm scent of buttery rolls. The stuffing. The pumpkin pie. You have been waiting for this meal for weeks and you are going to indulge. As you consider devouring an entire week’s worth of food, you quickly realize it is impossible to eat this much food in a single sitting.
So, why do we often follow this same pattern when it comes to our faith? On Sundays, we try to scarf down as much of God as possible, expecting that to be enough for the rest of our week. But then we end up walking through the week with empty plates and empty bellies.
When I look back on my life, I see that I have often been a spiritual poser. I went to church on Sundays, and then starved myself Monday through Saturday. I prayed only for the things I wanted—if I even prayed at all. I never spent any time reading the Bible, and I did not think love was important. And then, I’d find myself at church Sunday mornings, stuffing myself with as much Jesus as I possibly could, pretending it would sustain me, only to feel unfulfilled the rest of the week.
I recently received an incredibly profound message from my pastor. I was so emotionally impacted by it, that I instantly hit my knees and began to pray hard. I prayed that God would shine a light on the dark parts of my heart. I prayed that He would expose the parts of me that needed deep healing. I prayed for clarity and humility. But, as my week began, I could feel God’s presence escaping me. I stopped talking to Him, and I could no longer hear Him.
Once I finally realized this pattern of mine, I knew it was time to reset my focus to God. And I turned to one of the many ways I knew would help me reconnect and communicate with God. I needed to fast.
By definition, fasting means to abstain from all or some kinds of food and drink for the sake of a specific spiritual resolution. So, I put down my fork and opened up the word of God. And when I felt the pangs of hunger, I turned to the Lord and He fed me. When I felt my energy lacking, I turned to the Lord and He revived me.
I leaned into God with complete confidence and my prayers were eventually answered. I found clarity and humility. I was also reminded that God is always with me, diligently working on me, and caring for me in my greatest discomforts. All I have to do is call out to Him and fall into His safe embrace.
Because fasting was not a prominent teaching of Jesus’, I never really paid it much attention. But Jesus says in Matthew 6 “when you fast,” not “if you fast.” In fasting, we are able to open up the line of communication between us and God. We are able to receive revelations and hear His voice with clarity. It reminds us to trust that God will fill us with His spiritual sustenance, strengthening us: mind, body, and soul.
“I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.” (Isaiah 46:4)
Take some time to think about the things in your life that may stand in the way of God. What is it that keeps you from prayer? What distracts you from spending time with God, and hearing His voice? Prayerfully consider something that might be burning in your heart to fast.
Fasting proves to be much harder in practice than it is in concept. Here are a few guidelines to help you incorporate fasting into your spiritual life:
- Pray, and let God lead you in how and what you will be fasting
- Start small—fast one or two meals, or a specific food or drink
- Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water
- Set aside time each day during your fast to connect with God—feast solely on His words and be satisfied with nothing less than the taste of God!
- Use your fast as a time of reflection and listening
- Be patient, as fasting doesn’t always deliver instant answers
If you decide to fast this week, or have fasted before, we would love to hear how you fasted and what you experienced! Please comment below how God is working in your life.