Ezra 8:21-23 - "There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, "The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him." So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer."
Scripture often links fasting and prayer. I have to admit I pray but rarely rast. I have fasted in the past, but it has not been a common discipline. Recently the campus pastors of Faith Church decided to fast and pray primarily in conjuction with Easter. The challenge was actually for a fast beyond 24 hours. As I write this, I'm 4 hours shy of a 48-hour fast. I tell you that not because I am so wonderful, but rather because of the profound ways it has spoken to me and the other pastors. We gathered to pray a few times and also gathered to reflect. We talked for a half hour and had such similar, yet different, experiences. I will randomly list them for you to see and maybe reflect upon in your own life.
- It revealed how totally depraved we are and how self-centered we can be.
- It also revealed an ugly desire to be self-righteous, like "Wow, I'm somebody."
- It made parts of our relationship with God and His word more clear.
- It allowed for stronger focus on the things of God, His will and heart.
- Anxiousness diminished.
- There was an aspect of cleansing and purification.
- There were moments of deep weakness and wanting to give up.
- There were sometimes moments of self-pity.
- It was used as an example to some people close to us.
- There was a sense of connecting with God that was special.
- There was a war of appetite - the war of hunger for food, but also the war of sin, temptation and filling the void.
- There were excellent times of prayer.
- This experience drove us to the Lord.
- There were moments where food was in hand, but strength and awareness came.
- There was unusual weakness and unusual strength and humility.
- There was grumpiness and joy.
- Fasting in team, with accountability, is much more doable.
- But most of all, there was less of us and more of God!
It was an interesting, exciting, somewhat difficult discipline for me. I long to do it more often. I hope to do it again but realize how undisciplined I am to want to do it. I do believe it requires us to slow down to fast!