But He answered and said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” — Matthew 4:4
If you read Matthew chapter 6, you will find that Jesus expects us as His followers to do three spiritual disciplines: Give, pray, and fast. He does not say, “If you decide to (give/pray/fast)”, He says, “When you (give/pray/fast).”
Over the course of my 25-year walk with Christ, I had no problem immediately beginning to pray. Granted, they were some of the most pitiful prayers ever uttered, but they were prayers. Over the course of these past 25 years, the relationship that I have with God now through prayer is absolutely astounding. I can now honestly say that I love God. More importantly, I can say that He loves me.
When it came to giving, I had no problem putting in a few dollars here and there, but when I learned that true tithing was 10% of our income, that was insane. 10% was out of the question. Probably 8 years after becoming a Christian, I began to give, like for real give. Over the course of the past 17 years of giving, I am amazed at how much more I have now keeping only 90% of my income and giving away 10%. I know now that He wanted me to give so that I could actually own money. He knew if I didn’t learn how to give, money would always own me.
This leads me to the last spiritual discipline: fasting. I told my daughter one time that we were going on a fast. Of course, she said, “What’s that?” I said we were going to go a week without eating and drinking only water. Her immediate response was “You’ll DIE!!” I assured her we would not, though around the 2nd or 3rd day we’d probably feel like it. I talked to her about how it is a time to dedicate to God and focus and concentrate on His word. I know she thought we were crazy.
Many of you might think we are crazy. Every time, I bring up the subject of fasting, someone asks if it is possible.
Just like I started out with pitiful prayers and pitiful giving, my first fast was also pitiful. I had set my mind to fast for three days. I lasted about 18 hours. I had the worst migraine about 12 hours later. I ate something and immediately vomited. My body did not like being denied its necessary food. It made me wonder if John 4:4 was true. It made me wonder if Jesus really did fast for 40 days.
The next year, I read books about fasting. I learned that the poorer you eat, the harder a fast will be. No wonder I was doomed after half a day. I read about a Daniel fast, how you could cut meats and sweets and only eat fruits and vegetables while drinking only water. I decided to do this one for 21 days because surely it can’t be that hard. I was wrong. But, I did manage to make it through it. All I know, is at the end of that fast, I was so much more sensitive to God and His Holy Spirit. It was amazing.
Ever since then, I have given the end of December/beginning of January as a time of fasting. Every year, my goal is to make it just a little more difficult than it was last year. Every year, God seems to bless me way more than I deserve.
If you do not fast, or have never fasted, read up on it and start. Do not do like I did and think you are going to do a multi-day water only fast . . . you will probably be disappointed and insanely sick like I was. Maybe for your first fast, you only cut out sugar for a week. Believe me, it’s harder than you think; especially if you eat them as much as I do. You and God both know what would be a worthy sacrifice for your first fast.
If you have fasted before, try to take it to a new level year after year. I think it lets God know that you actually believe John 4:4.
Happy New Year!