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. — Ezra 8:21
Twelve years ago tomorrow, my first child, Caroline, was 7 months away from being born. We had already miscarried twice, so I was more than worried about this pregnancy. I remember reading Ezra 8:21 and catching the words “and our children.” I thought of the journey that our little girl would have to make from her mom to this world and impulsively declared a fast. I added these words, “and God, I will fast every year for 21 days if you will give Caroline safe passage.” I have kept my vow, but even now, right before the fast begins, I always have a bit of, “Why in the world did I say that?” going on. Of course I feel horrible for thinking this, but fasting is flat out, no fun.
Nevertheless, I believe that God has used these fasting seasons to grow me exponentially. If not for fasting, I believe there is no way that I actually become a minister of the Word. Somehow, fasting is like Miracle Grow for your spirit. You don’t know really how it is happening, but in the afflicting of yourself, you change. You come out on the other side different. You come out better. You come out closer to Him that you were before.
I am amazed at how very little material there is on fasting. I pretty much read the same books every year. I read Jentezen Franklin’s book, “Fasting.” I also read Arthur Wallis’s book “God’s Chosen Fast.” I like his book because he gives practical advice on what you can expect to feel like as the days go by. I’ve been looking for a book called “Revival Now Through Prayer and Fasting,” and it is a really hard book to find. I did finally find one for $20, but three people on Amazon thought it was worth $75! I’m really looking forward to receiving, reading, and applying it.
I’m pretty sure the reason nobody writes these books is because so few people actually fast. I can only imagine how few books American Christians buy on fasting. There are tons of books on the physical benefits of fasting, but not so many spiritual books on the spiritual aspect. I would venture to say that more non-Christians fast for their health than Christians do as a springboard into God’s presence. I would like to believe that isn’t true, and because our fasting is to be done as privately as possible, more Christians are fasting than we know. To me, fasting is one of the ultimate forms of denying yourself, taking up your cross, and following Him.
I just want to encourage you today to pick out some days and proclaim a fast. Surely you’d like safe passage for your family in 2018. Or, better yet, maybe you just want to be as close to Him as you’ve ever been in your life. Maybe you need healing (If you have Amazon Prime, watch “The Science of Fasting”). Maybe a family member needs healing. Maybe a family member or close friend of yours needs to be saved. Proclaim a fast. Replace physical meals with spiritual ones. Turn off social media and television. You will find that He is so much nearer than you think.
In the book of Ezra, the Israelites had bragged to the Persians how big, great, and mighty their God was. Because of this, they didn’t want to ask them for any kind of royal protection against their enemies as they traveled back to their homeland. Instead, they weakened themselves through fasting and completely trusted God to get them home safely.
Of course He protected them.
He will do the same for you.