Just over a year ago two people who I love and respect told me that I needed to have a regular rhythm of fasting and prayer. The first time I was told that, I didn’t try it. When I heard it a second time a few weeks later, I thought maybe God was trying to get my attention.
I cannot tell you how glad I am that I took that advice!
My view on fasting and prayer had been that I went to this in times of big decisions. My motivation had been that God would see how serious I was taking things and would help me make the right decision.
I don’t see it that way at all now. God’s people in the scriptures had regular fasting rhythms and I believe (for those who are healthy enough to do so) we should as well. One example of this is the Day of Atonement, where God’s people would fast over repentance and reflect on their lives before the Lord.
There is a difference between fasting every year or so and a rhythm of fasting and prayer. There is also a big difference depending on your motivation. I have found the motivation of putting God first and fasting being my submission to the sovereignty of God to have far deeper effects on my life than when I tried to use fasting as a vehicle to prove something to God.
When you have a time of fasting each week (for me it is typically Tuesday no breakfast or lunch, so I don’t eat from dinner Monday to dinner Tuesday) God works through that to put us in a state of more dependence on Him. And when you enter into deeper dependence on God, you become a more relaxed person. There is no better word to describe the experience than shalom – not the absence of war, but a state of inner peace, tranquility and reliance on God.
This takes a while to occur. In my experience I worked on this for three months before the inner culture of my soul began to shift. It has a cumulative effect…and that one day of fasting colors the rest of my week. I have peace throughout most of the week, even when things are going poorly, because I am depending on God for all things…putting him first above everything, even things needed to live. God is over all things, even food.
You will be amazed how much you see God show up in big ways when you change the soil culture of your heart.
If you are healthy enough to fast, I encourage you to find a rhythm that works for you. I don’t know what God will do with you through that season but I know you won’t regret it!