But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction — Job 36:15
I don’t think there is anything more unappealing than fasting. I also can’t think of anything that is more rewarding than to complete a fast. Several years ago I did my first fast. It was what is known today as a Daniel fast. It is derived from verse 2 of Daniel chapter 10. Tonya and I had had two miscarriages. When she was pregnant for the third time, I stumbled across Matthew 17:21: “this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” I needed something big from God…for Him to let this third child live. I had prayed, but that “and fasting” stood out to me big time. I just decided to go for it. I fasted and prayed for 21 days in January. In July, we had our first child…Caroline.
In Daniel chapter 10 verse 1, Daniel received a vision concerning a great war. I don’t know if you realize it or not, but we are in a great war. Satan and the forces of evil are after anyone and everyone that wants to consecrate themselves to the Lord. To activate those forces, one only needs to go after the Lord with all of his or her heart, soul, and mind. I could not even count the number of times that I have been told this story: “I really tried to live for the Lord, but it seems like all Hell broke loose in my life, and I just quit.” Welcome to the great war!
Once Daniel realized this, the Bible says that he “mourned for three weeks.” This is where I got the idea to fast for 21 days. In Daniel 10:3 he says “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.” This is where I believe that you have to personalize your fast*. What is “choice food” for you? For me, it means no bread, no meat, no sweets, and only drink water. Basically, just eat fruits and vegetables. I don’t drink alcohol or use lotions anyway…so those are no problem.
I’m going to go ahead and warn you, for the majority of people the first few days are really difficult. The headache from caffeine withdrawal is just about ridiculous. It is flat out, self-induced suffering. I have known a few people that have used the period of fasting to break addictions of smoking or dipping. Many have told me that the withdrawals were almost unbearable.
So, why do all this? There is no way I could list all the cool stuff He has done in me and through me through fasting. But, the coolest benefit is this…you receive a heightened sense of His Presence. You don’t just change your diet for 21 days, you change your habits. Instead of watching television, you read the Word. Instead of listening to secular radio, you listen to Christian radio. Instead of playing on the computer, you get your family together and discuss Bible stories and pray. Instead of talking on your cell phone, you pray. Instead of reading Twilight for the 8th time, you read your Bible. All I can tell you is that the combination of the change in diet and the steady flow of the Word of God does something to you. It brings you closer to Him and you truly begin to fall in love with Him. When you are fasting, you are in a constant state of brokenness (well, after the headache and vomiting is over…usually in 1 to 3 days) Best of all, you have a constant awareness of how He is right there with you. There is nothing like it.
Maybe you need something big from God. Maybe prayer AND fasting is what you need to do. Maybe you just want a blessed year and “safe passage” for you and your family (see Ezra 8:21). Maybe you just want to fall more in love with the Savior who gave His life for you. I believe fasting is a key that can open these doors for you.
All who will, find 21 consecutive days in January and proclaim a fast. I suggest that you start on a Friday so that you can be miserable at home for the weekend. Let’s give God the first part of our year so that He may bless the rest of the year more than He ever has before. May He do a work in us like never before. May He use us to lead many to Him.
Yes, suffering stinks, but the Lord uses it to produce something wonderful. I can only imagine how He suffered for me. It was ONLY through His suffering that my salvation was even possible. He did it for me…I can do it for Him! “But those who suffer He delivers in their suffering; He speaks to them in their affliction.” — Job 36:15
* The fast I am talking about here is a partial fast. A real deal fast is simply doing without food for a period of time…MUCH harder (especially for food junkies like myself!) If you have never done a fast before, you definitely want to start with a partial fast. For most people, especially teenagers, just drinking water for 21 days and ditching the soft drinks, energy drinks, coffee and tea would be pretty hardcore.