My mother fasted and prayed a lot when I was little. I never knew her objectives for fasting, but I knew that she was doing it because she loved God and wished to approach Him in humility and worship. My Janey was my model for living a righteous life. When my own children were school-aged, I, too, like my mother, fasted. My objective for doing so centered on my desire that God protect my children and be their guide. Would He have protected them and been their guide if I had not fasted? I very much believe so. Which brings me to the focus of this post. While I fast for God (to appeal for blessing, to petition for healing, to submit to His sovereignty, and to draw closer to Him), --I-- am the one who benefits immeasurably. I’ll explain.
I lately fasted for a particular concern, and though my fleshly and selfish desire was to have my petition heard and granted by God, my spiritual and godly desire was to have God’s will be done. In the end, my petition was heard and granted BECAUSE it was God’s will. But not all fasting must necessarily transpire when a physical, financial, or emotional need exists. Not at all. We draw closer to God when we are spiritually dependent upon Him. And when we fast for spiritual needs, we do just that: depend upon Him and His grace. Likewise, not all fasting will yield the results we secretly hoped for, but that does not mean God is not listening. On the contrary. God sees and hears us. He just knows what’s best for His children, that’s all.
During dinner the other day, my friend and I discussed the prospect of taking the next step in our lives. We talked of people in the Bible who took their next step in faith and with the purpose of seeking God’s will. One of the Biblical persons mentioned was Queen Esther. Queen Esther’s next step for her nation, upon hearing the news that her people would be utterly destroyed, was to instruct her uncle to go and tell her people to fast for three days. The story goes on to explain that at the end of the fast, Queen Esther would approach the throne to petition for her people’s lives (Esther 4:16). In the end, God spared Queen Esther’s nation because of her people’s faith, humility, and submission to Him through fasting.
God lives, reigns, blesses, heals, protects, fulfills, provides, and saves. And all with such abundant grace. Fasting blesses my spirit. Each time I think of food and hunger during a fast, I am reminded of God and His spiritual provision. And believe me, I think of food so often when I’m fasting that I think of and talk talk with God much more than normal. No food. More God. I’ll take that any day of the week.
I once read the book Fasting: Opening the Door to a Deeper, More Intimate, More Powerful Relationship with God by Jentezen Franklin, and in it, Franklin writes, “...we will never walk in the perfect will of God until we seek Him through fasting. When you present your body in this manner, you open yourself up to hear from God. You will prove or discover His good and perfect will for your life...Fasting prepares the way for God to give you fresh revelation, fresh vision, and clear purpose.” Queen Esther and her people were joined by countless others throughout the Bible exemplifying the need for fasting. You see, when we submit to God’s will in our lives, we read His word, talk with Him, and fast for Him.
Physical fast. For God. Spiritual blessing. For us.
January 14, 2017