“I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.” Daniel 10:3
Today starts a twenty-one day time of prayer and fasting for the members of the church where my family attends and serves. It’s an annual thing that goes on every January. It’s just the way the church starts off every year, and it’s why, we believe, our church has achieved the level of success it has in the short twelve years it’s been in existence.
Most people understand the whole prayer thing, but when you throw in fasting lots of people begin squirming in their chairs. Fasting is generally reserved for those religious nuts who play with snakes and such. Most people remember the whole Oral Roberts fasting thing, and recall the bad taste that it put into everyone’s mouth back then. I know it put a bad taste about fasting in my mouth, too.
If fasting makes you a little squeamish, take a look into scripture, and see all those who fasted. Moses, Esther, and David fasted. The whole people of Israel fasted. Jesus fasted. The early church fasted. Jesus fasted. Did I mention Jesus? If you do a Google search of Bible verses speaking to fasting, you’ll be surprised at the number of times it is mentioned and practiced there.
So I’ve learned a lot about fasting in the last few years. There are plenty of things that fasting is not. Fasting is not something that should be done with a lot of public fanfare. No one needs to rent a billboard to announce their fast has begun. It’s not about seeking attention for yourself, Oral.
Fasting is not about losing weight. Although weight loss can be a byproduct of fasting, it’s not a diet. Jenny Craig is a diet. I’ve learned the hard way that fasting food is not to be taken lightly. It can seriously kick your tail and become a distraction itself.
Fasting is about changing one’s focus. This world has so many things that try to distract us from what things are really important. Sometimes the distractions are good things, but they can still monopolize our time and keep up from learning and growing in the areas God would have us learn and grow.
Fasting is about simplifying. We just don’t need all that constant input from worldly kinds of things. Fasting is an opportunity to say no to some okay things, to make room for some really awesome things.
Fasting improves our hearing. The Bible tells us that the Lord will speak to us through a still small voice. Most of us would never hear anything still or small. We’re too busy listening to loud and obnoxious. If we are ever going to hear God when he speaks, we have got to turn down the volume around us, and separate ourselves from the clamor. Create a space where we are free to hear him.
So for the next three weeks, I am fasting. I’m letting Facebook and Twitter continue without me. The television is going to get a bit of rest, too. No CNN constantly telling me how horrible life is and about all the impending doom. No mindless cooking or remodeling shows, which are not bad, but they suck too much of my time. I’m not going to cook or remodel anything I see on those, am I? The music I listen to will honor Jesus. It will point my heart to God and set my mind on the proper path. Hammer can’t touch this.
I’m going to avoid the lesser healthy aspects of my diet and focus on putting things in my body that will bring it health and strength. Again, it’s not a diet. And it’s not a legalistic thing. It’s a focus thing. I deny my physical body, so that my spiritual side can get a leg up. So often, we are driven by our physical body, and we forget that we are also a spiritual being. I once heard it said, that we are not a physical body with a spirit, but a spiritual being with a body. Fasting just allows that spiritual being to be in control for a while.
I’m believing God for big things during this fast. For me, my family, and my church. Because when we reset our focus on God, he tends to do big things. Who doesn’t want God to do big things?
So why don’t you join me? Afraid of calling it a fast? Fine, call it a refocus. We can do a twenty-one day refocus. Come on, what have you got to lose? Give God the next twenty-one days, it will change your life. I promise you, it will. Share your thoughts here, tell us how you’re going to refocus for the next twenty-one days! Let’s do this thing together!