In my years of following Jesus, I never fasted. Not once. Not social media, not television, not sugar, not food. I didn’t see the need. Fasting seemed like one of those things you did to enhance your prayer life. My prayer life was good enough—no self-denial necessary. Pride much?
However, this year I felt God telling me it was time. Maybe he said so in the past and my pride kept me from hearing him. This time I heard and headed. In January, our church entered into a twenty-one day period of prayer and fasting. I prepared with a little research (can I get a type-A high-five?) about the particular fast my husband and I decided to tackle. The list of foods we would eat and those we would avoid got a prominent place on the fridge.
Next, I made a detailed list of prayer needs. They ranged from marriage to missions, dreams to decisions. The hidden things in my heart made the list, as well as needs of my friends and family. We ate our final meal at Moe’s Original Barbeque. Then I said farewell to animal products, bread, and added sugar and a great big hello to powerful prayer.
Y’all, it was the best three weeks. While I didn’t eat any pizza or add cream to my coffee, I stayed so satisfied. I am sold out on fasting. You can call me a fasting fan. I will sign up for it again and again, the first name on the list.
As we prepare to enter this Lenten season, it seems like the perfect opportunity to share a few lessons I learned while fasting. Lent is a time of preparation, consecration, and repentance. Fasting enhances the experience by removing distractions so we can better focus on God. The Lenten fast lasts between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday (March 1 to April 15 this year).
5 Lessons I Learned While Fasting
My eyes are wide open to see the many ways God answers my prayers. Prayer is not my natural spiritual gift. I am prone to pop off a quick prayer and forget to look for the answer. Fasting gave me laser-like focus on my prayer areas so I stayed attentive for any movement of God in those areas.
I turn to prayer as a first response instead of a last resort. I tend to problem solve my way out of difficult situations. There’s nothing a strategic to-do list can’t fix. If that fails, then there’s always prayer. During the fast, prayer was the focus so prayer became my go-to when a problem or concern surfaced.
I take more ownership for my part of desired change. Prayer is powerful, but if I am unwilling to engage in introspection its power is diminished. Many of the things I pray about require me to do something. A stronger marriage involves me being the best wife I can be. Financial blessings often come on the other side of fiscal responsibility. Fasting helped me recognize ways I could become a part of God’s answers to my prayers.
Persistent prayer is powerful prayer. All too often, I give up on prayer too soon. One and done does not make a powerful prayer life. Fasting kept me focused on my prayer needs for twenty-one days. I kept praying, even when I didn’t see immediate results. By the end, I saw God move in every area.
My temporary “suffering” produces gratitude for what Jesus endured on the cross. During my fast, I turned down pizza, birthday cake, and free fish tacos. These moments of self-denial were reminders of Jesus’s willing walk to the cross. I gave up meat and sugar; he gave up his life. If he endured that for me, surely I can endure a fast for him.
Are you looking for deeper intimacy with God? Or a more powerful prayer life? Consider fasting something during this Lenten season. Maybe it’s social media, Netflix, soda, or complaining. Lay something down to make room in your heart for Jesus.Lay something down to make room in your heart for Jesus. #lent #fastingClick To Tweet
#FridayFive Link UpPrepare for #lent with the #FridayFive #linkup.Click To Tweet
What are you doing to focus on God during Lent? Share in the comments or link up using the blue button below. I look forward to reading about it as I enjoy walking this disciple’s journey with you!
The Lent link up is open until March 9, allowing for reflections from the beginning of Lent. We will pump up the jam on March 10th with your playlists!
Please consult a physician if you have a medical condition and plan to fast food. For more information on fasting, read this guide from Church of the Highlands. This sermon by Chris Hodges is a really great place to start.
Additional reading to deepen your faith and commitment during Lent:
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Photo credit: Ben White via Unsplash.