Monday, May 4, 2009

fasting part 1

fasting part 1

first of all, i am by no means the expert on fasting. i actually have a favorite book about fasting that i have loaned out more times than i can count... i may actually have to buy a second copy so that i have one around here to refer to when i am needing it. the one book i have read that makes the lifestyle of fasting very simple is the rewards of fasting by mike bickle and dana candler. for just under $10, you can have a great resource to refer to and, i promise, pass on if you are like me and are wanting to start this journey but get overwhelmed by all the connotations the word fasting brings with it.

that disclaimer aside, i would like to take a couple blog entries to talk a bit about fasting. though i do not have the experience i would like to have much authority on the subject, i would like to do what i have promised to on this blog and share a bit about my journey.

i do not remember how old i was when i went on my first fast, but i know that i was in my early teens. i remember seeing a flyer at church, back in the "old bethel" for those of you who can even remember that far back, and it was a corporate fast someone in the christian world was calling. i talked to my mom about it and decided to give it a try. no, i did not do a 40 day water fast. i can't even remember at this point what i decided to fast or how long i lasted, it was probably very very simple and short, but i know that was when the seed was planted.

since then, i have done different corporate fasts, such as the 1st 40 days of 2000, in which while i was on a juice fast (a senior in college, mind you, with a very full load - it is possible to do as a student, i promise!) when i was healed of very uncomfortable lactose intolerance while fasting. i was privileged to participate some of these amazing corporate fasts at a young age, many called by lou engle, who i personally consider one of my spiritual fathers after going to harvest rock church in pasadena, ca, where he was on staff with che ahn while i was in college at azusa pacific university. i also would fast when contending for a breakthrough in some area of my life or in prayer for breakthrough in others lives such as healing. i had such a habit of fasting before making big decisions, that i have often shared with people when telling bill and my "story" that i fasted 3 days before telling him that i had feelings for him.

i do not say all that so you will think i am an expert faster. not at all! many times in college i was tired, stressed from all the balancing of classes, homework, jobs, activities, and other stuff that i would fail time and time again in my fasting pursuits. many times i would begin a fast in the morning to end it around lunchtime. sometimes i would decided to fast a week and make it a day and a half... i say that to encourage any one who is desiring to fast, but feels like they are a failure. i actually approached the Lord about this when i was really struggling with the times that i did terrible at making it through the time frames i had set for myself. i felt like He encouraged me that He saw the desire of my heart to seek Him in this part of my walk with Him and He was okay with me learning.

now that i am a parent i think of when each of my kids decided that they wanted to learn how to walk. i did not get frustrated and upset with them when they would fall down. i was not hard on them when they were afraid to let go of the table to take that first step. i was delighted with their desire to learn! i did not focus on the times they "messed up" in their journey because i was so delighted by their desire to try! our youngest son, david, decided to start walking the day before thanksgiving. we were laughing, taking pictures, helping him up when he fell, and getting him started again - it was an amazing time!what an encouragement it is to my insecure heart when Jesus said,
if you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! matthew 7:11
so, even with a history that goes back half of my life in learning how to fast, it was not until recently that i started a new leg of my journey of fasting - the fasted lifestyle Jesus spoke of in the sermon on the mount. i would love to expound in a later post about the different types of fasting, but i just want to take a bit to touch on fasting in secret.

in matthew 6 Jesus taught on the different elements of a fasted lifestyle and i am so intrigued by what He said about the issue of fasting food:
whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites {do,} for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees {what is done} in secret will reward you.
first of all, it is so interesting to me that He was talking to a group of people, the jews, who were very familiar with corporate fasts. some of the feasts the jews celebrate throughout the year actually have corporate fasting connected to them. however, this was not the fasting He was talking about. this type of fasting, i believe, is the fasting He was referring to when the pharisees approached Him with questions about why His disciples feasted while the disciples of john the baptist fasted. Jesus answered that His disciples did not fast while He was with them, but what He said next was very interesting:
but {the} days will come; and when the Bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days. luke 5:35
i believe Jesus was talking about our generation and the day that we live in. this was the type of fasting He was speaking of in the sermon on the mount when He urged them to fast in secret in order to have a reward.

there is so much to this type of fasting that is new to me and to many people who are mostly familiar with the long extended fasts or corporate fasts! for one, it is about having a habit of regular fasting fit into one's lifestyle. i have heard mike bickle say that any healthy adult can safely fast 2 days every week! i am here to tell you that even pregnant and nursing moms can modify a fast, making it even a juice fast, to safely fast 1 day a week. this is something we can do! i will go into the why more at a different time, but i want to say again: this is something we can do! will we mess up? yes! many, many times. i do not think the fact that we mess up along the way is a reason to not start this journey that has a promised reward from the Father at the end. Jesus said, when you fast... He was not speaking to those who did not have the Holy Spirit. He was talking to us! we have the Holy Spirit... but was are still waiting for Jesus Himself to come back and place His feet on the mount of olives for real. that has not happened yet, for the apostles encouraged the church that we would not miss it and would know when it happened. so, this is our opportunity to fast out of our desire for more of Him and for His imminent return to reign on the earth in the most real interpretation of that promise! i get excited even writing about it!

as i promised, i will break this up so it is not too long to read in one sitting. what i want to leave you with right now is this: fasting in secret is for our generation. Jesus not only prophesied that it would happen when He was to be absent from us, but promised us a reward from the Father if we would enter into it. fasting is hard, but it is a journey. you can do it! i promise you will mess up. if you are anything like me, you will eat a spoonful of peanut butter while making your kids their lunch and then remember you were supposed to be fasting. whoops! it will sound like such a great idea the night before; then 2 hours into it, it will sound like the biggest waste of time and pointless. i know that i have had every reason why i should not fast go through my head when i attempt to do it in secret; everything from that it is just "legalistic", whatever that really means, to it is not really good for my body and i need to take care of my body, or it is a bad day for it and maybe i will try tomorrow instead, or that it is pointless and nothing comes of it anyways... and more! we are all human and it is hard for all of us, but i want that reward that Jesus promises, i want my Bridegroom to return, and i want to be the type of bride that He desires to come back to with a heart that is tender from choosing voluntary weakness like He did.

more later, but be encouraged! this is a very good journey. let go of the table a take a little step. you delight His heart.

click here to read fasting part 2



Unknown said...

thank you.

suzanne mogensen said...

thanks Charis, lots to chew on. I like how much you're writing!

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