It’s day two. I know it’s the fourth of January, but for me and many others, it’s day two of a 21 day journey of prayer and fasting. It’s a thing, if you didn’t know. And it’s not a new thing either. It’s an old thing. Like Daniel in the Old Testament old.
This is only my fifth year to start out a new year in this way. I grew up in church traditions that never spoke of fasting unless it happened to be in the scriptures read for the day, and we just quickly read over the fasting part. Fasting was for weirdos. Only it’s not. Fasting is for everyone.
So what’s the deal? It’s a time of disconnecting with the things of this world that don’t matter much, and reconnecting with what does matter… God. Pretty straight forward, yes? How you disconnect with the world is up to you. I have done social media fasts, television fasts, music fasts, and food fasts. Fasting food is not about weight loss, although it is a possible byproduct of a food fast… not so much from a social media fast, though.
The idea is that we get all cluttered up with distraction throughout the year. Things vie for our attention, and we focus on whatever seems to sound good to us. It’s not that we fill our minds or schedules with bad stuff, particularly, but we allow too much in at times. So much, in fact, that we can find ourselves overloaded and disconnected from God. It happens.
So at the start of the New Year, some people refocus. We take away things to make room for other things. Better things. Things that allow us to shift our focus back in line with God.
Things like prayer, scripture, or worship. A book by an inspirational author, or taking a long walk can help us to refocus, too.
Fasting is not a means to punish oneself. We’re not gnashing teeth. It is setting things back in their proper place in one’s life. It is generally our nature to want to say yes to the desires of our minds and bodies. All of them. Chocolate cake? Yes. Seconds at dinner? Yes, pass the rolls and potatoes. Our minds convince us that we don’t need to exercise, or that it’s okay to entertain negativity. Our minds and bodies convince us that we deserve these things, and so we feed the parts of us that will one day wither and die, while we neglect the part of us that is eternal… our souls. Fasting puts things back in their proper place and feeds the soul.
For the last few years, I’ve asked God to tell me, during my 21 days, where my focus should be. Last year it was about having ears to hear and eyes to see the will and ways of God. I wanted to SEE what He was up to. I wanted to KNOW how He was moving in and around me. So I sought that out during my last 21 day fast, and beyond.
This year, I think my focus is to be on truth. Why do we avoid truth in our lives? Why do we fail to speak truth to others and to ourselves? It’s the tangled webs we weave. Statistics say that we all lie. We all justify telling small untruths that somehow don’t take us across that invisible line in our minds; the one that tells us just how far we can go before we are no longer “good people”. We will even lie when it is just as easy to tell the truth. We don’t want to hear the truth about ourselves, and we are too afraid to speak the truth to others.
And yet, it is clear in scripture that Jesus is truth, and it is truth that sets us free. Don’t we want to be free?
There are other things I will pray about this 21 days, too. I will petition the Lord for my family. Matthew starts his journey toward finishing his doctorate in a few days. My kids are always at the top of my prayer list. I push them before the Lord in earnest during these days. I ask God for blessing, favor, anointing, protection, and wisdom. I am asking God to move in my life and in the lives of those I love.
It’s a huge shift in focus, and it’s not too late to join me. In the grand scheme of things 21 days is nothing… but it could be everything.