Day 1, May 12, 2011:
Back in February I wrote a blog post about the importance of fasting and how it helps to release us from our dependence on earthly thing and rely more profoundly on God. I also mentioned in that post that I was not a very good "faster," but that I did believe that if and when sincerely practice, it can bring forth tremendous rewards and closer encounter with God.
I mention this, because I find myself once again, being called to renew my commitment to fasting. I have tried to fast at least once week, but I must admit, I have not done this whole heartily or in a way that has fostered true discipline or reliance on God. My tummy begins to get hungry and simply, I end up caving! However, I keep hearing this inner call to press on, to take fasting more seriously. Through prayer, conversations with others and various incidences, I feel that God's is revealing to me that I will obtain the clarity I seek and His will for my life, if I seriously dedicate myself to a serious fast.
Today I had the rare occasion of letting myself roam around my local bookstore. I decided that I needed a little break from my normal studying and lesson planning routine. I had a gift card and thought perhaps I would buy myself a cookbook or a light read to flip through. However, once I got to the bookstore, I immediately came across a table with four books on fasting! I thought to myself, what are the odds of this! Especially, on a Wednesday, which is my normal fast day, but on this day, I had decided not to fast...was God trying to give me some kind of reminder? Nonetheless, I proceeded to look through each book and one spoke to me, it is was, "Fasting: Opening the Door to a Deeper, More Intimate, More Powerful Relationship with God" by Jentezen Franklin.
As soon as I got home, I could not put the book down. Franklin had a candid and easy way of explaining the spiritual purpose of fasting that just spoke to me. Franklin also uses many scriptural passages to demonstrate how all major characters in the Bible fasted and the spiritual rewards that were given to them. He also discusses how those who were tempted by passion and food, did not gain reward with God or ever learn God's true plan for their life. For example, he discusses Adam and Eve in the garden and how by eating the forbidden fruit, they basically ate themselves literally out of house and home! As a practicing Catholic, I immediately saw that I could learn a lot from this Protestant Pastor. Franklin discusses that at the beginning of each year, he and his congregation embark on a 21 day fast. The number 21 stems from Daniel's fast while he was under captivity in Babylon. Essentially, by doing this at the beginning of the year, Franklin states that him and his congregation are putting God first in their lives for that year. Now, Franklin discusses that fasts can be shorter and longer than this and they can be taken on in different forms, from a complete fast to a partial. However, his main point is this to readers who open up the first few pages:
"Since you are reading this book, you are probably not content to go through this year the way you went through last year. You know there's more. You know there is an assignment for your life. You know there are things that God desires to release in your life, and there is a genuine desperation for those things gripping your heart."
Wow! When I read these words, I thought, "Oh my, this is how I have been feeling, this is why I named my blog, "In Search Of," this captures my yearnings, my quest for clarity and to know God's purpose and how I had thought for months now that I needed to fast more seriously to obtain it!" Sometimes, God works in mysterious ways!
So where is this all leading? Well, Franklin points out that in the Beatitudes, Jesus gives us three specific duties: giving, prayer and fasting and if we practice this threefold cord, it is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12). Therefore, I have decided to recommit myself seriously to a 21 day fast. It will be partial, I do not think I am quite at the level to just go on water alone, but it will be a contrite effort, for spiritual discernment, mental clarity, courage and an answer to a private prayer request. I plan to write a very brief blog post each of the 21 days, discussing my goals for the fast, biblical teachings and some of Franklin's insight. Franklin recommends a journaling effort to take place during your fast, so I will use my blog to help encourage me to stay with this spiritual exercise and perhaps encourage others.
As Franklin says, "When you eliminate food from your diet for a number of days, your spirit becomes uncluttered by things of this world and amazingly sensitive to things of God." I have been waiting for this anointing, but I realize I must make the sacrifice, so I am open to receive it. I hope you keep me in your prayers as I make this journey.
My plan is to not drink any carbonated beverages, only water. To fast from wine (this is going to be tough) and eat only one to two smalls meals a day (I am going to try to keep this vegetarian). I know this may not seem like a lot, but for this wine loving carnivore, it is a fast! I am hoping this emptying of self, will help me to uncover God's plan for me and give me the courage to take certain steps and provide an answer to a private prayer request.
"Lord, as I fast unto You, replace the source of my joy, peace and gentleness with You. Purify my character so that I rely on continual surrender to Jesus instead of the contentment of the flesh." Amen.
Franklin, J. Fasting: Opening the Door to a Deeper, More Intimate, More Powerful Relationship with God. Charisma House: Lake Mary, Florida.