But this fast was begun out of desperation. I needed to hear God in my situation, and needed serious intervention. All I could think of was I needed to show God I was downright serious about getting his help now and urgently. I didn't know if what I was doing was right or wrong; I felt a bit like I was giving God an ultimatum--that if he didn't help me, I would continue to fast and either he would step in and show he cared or I would eventually waste away and die.
Okay, I know that sounds immature and ridiculous, but when you are faced with an unbearable need and feel your prayers are hitting the ceiling of your house and falling splat on the ground like dead birds, it can affect your faith. My faith felt shattered and puny. I'm just being honest here.
It wasn't until last evening that I sat down and did some research about fasting as to what the Bible says about it. I found some amazing articles and looked up a lot of Scriptures and it was only then, five days into my fast, that I saw how God's spirit had led me into this intense period of devotion.
Without going into pages of information, I will just make a list of the amazing things I learned about fasting. I will not cite the Scriptures, but these things are with biblical precedent. But I was amazed to see the power of fasting and its uses.
One thing, though, that stuck out to me is something I was already aware of. That Jesus said, "When you fast ..." and proceeded to tell his disciples how they should behave. He didn't say "if." He also said before his death that after he was crucified his followers would fast. And there are numerous accounts in the NT of the apostles and disciples fasting for various reasons. Obviously Jesus felt fasting was an important part of worship. He wants us to do it. But it is important to know why and how you do it. I 'm not going to get into the logistics about how to fast and how to break a fast and all that. That's a whole other topic. But here's what stuck with me:
- Many people believe that fasting is to move the hand of God, when in actuality it is to make Satan turn loose the things he is holding. I felt this keen sense that my family was under some sort of demonic hold, a spirit of lies that we could not break.
- When we fast, we undo the heavy burden and break every yoke of the enemy. Fasting is an important key to getting the victory over a hard situation that does not seem to respond to normal prayer. This hit home, big-time for me. We had been praying years about certain issues and could not break free through all the hours of agonized prayer we had sent heavenward.
- Fasting builds our faith. When Jesus said a particular demon couldn't be cast out except through prayer and fasting, he implied fasting has a particular power over demonic holding. And then he chastised those around them for their lack of faith. Fasting, then, builds that faith.
- Fasting is a form of afflicting our souls. It suppresses the flesh and heightens our spiritual sensitivity.
- Fasting stirs up zeal and renews dedication and commitment to God.
- Fasting produces spiritual results, breakthroughs in the spirit or in personal life, like in relationships and finances. Somehow God imbues power in fasting, a power that can break through intense obstacles and barriers.
- You fast when you want a breakthrough in understanding a situation, an answer to a problem, divine direction, discernment of God's will, power to overcome.
- You fast when you feel you need to put yourself in a position to hear from God and experience the power of his presence, when you need to break away from a current situation and make a clean start.
- You fast when the holy spirit prompts you to. I didn't realize that's what was happening with me. I spoke to a woman who does a deliverance ministry and she felt we were dealing with a demonic attack and bondage. I knew there was something about our situation that seemed beyond our ability to understand or handle. Our prayers were not working and things were getting worse. Our sight grew dark and faith weak, despite amping up our prayers and focusing on God.
- Fasting of course is hugely for repentance and turning away from sin. That's what I thought its sole purpose was, since in the Bible there are so many examples of people fasting because of great remorse over their sin. But I didn't realize these other reasons.
I kept feeling mostly that I needed clarity. I needed to take my relationship with God to a higher place, to understand him more. I wasn't asking why all this was happening to us. I just desperately needed to know God cared, that he was in the midst of our situation.
While I've been fasting, many people have reached out to me and given me the words I've needed to hear. It's been like a huge seminar of advice, learning, hearing others' stories and what they've learned in their walk with God. I feel most of it has just slipped over my head, but the love, compassion, ministering that these friends and total strangers have given me this past week has been enormous. Most of those who have called, written, and spent time with me were complete strangers that heard of my need or saw me post for prayer on a loop. I found that touching--that God would move their hearts to stand in affirmation of my fast and continue praying with me and for me. Their love has humbled me and taught me a lot about how I can serve and be there for others. I now know I can fast for them in their time of need, and that God rewards that. Yes, Jesus said WHEN you fast in private, your heavenly Father will REWARD you. That shows me he values that we are sacrificing something precious and hard to do without--food.
One other side note I'll share, since I've done so many fasts years ago before I became a believer. From the moment I decided to fast and made my vow to God to stick with it until he tells me to stop, I have not been hungry. There are a few moments when the smell of food entices me, but as far as real hunger--it's just not there. I feel full all the time as if I've just eaten a meal. I can only say this is more evidence of God's spirit affirming my decision to fast.
So I hope some of these points have enlightened you as well. I would love to hear your fasting story, if you'd like to share a comment. As I'm wrapping up this first week, I do wonder how long I'm going to go without eating. But I feel at peace and have energy and am seeing great insight into my situation and know God is working. However, I'm still praying for the big breakthrough, the big aha moment that I am waiting for, which is why I started this fast. I am waiting and praying for direction, for God to give a word of wisdom and clarity as to our course. I am not asking God to explain why things are happening. I long ago gave up asking "why" to anything God does. But I am asking for God to wholly deliver us from the stranglehold of demonic bondage--of the lies that have infiltrated our hearts and lives. I am living in expectation each moment for the spirit to guide and tell me my course.
People say the holy spirit will make it clear when to break the fast. I am looking forward to that moment. I certainly love food and miss it a lot. But I love God more, and my desire to see him move in a big way right now in my life is more important than food.