Between 40-50 hours each week in the office, family needs, pastoral care with Mike and my personal speaking and drama ministry, life already moves at warp-speed. So why do I want to fast-forward my spiritual life?
I’m hungry to hear from God, is all. Sometimes when you’re that hungry, the only way to be fed is to fast.
In my last post, I mentioned that the month of February held two significant firsts: my first book tour as a publicist, and the beginning of my first real fast. Like lots of people, I’ve fasted for brief periods of time in the past. However, I’ve never taken it seriously as a spiritual discipline.
Jesus did, though, and in His public ministry He taught His followers what to do when, not if, they fasted.
Mike and I decided to begin a “Daniel fast” together on Ash Wednesday, and we’re now in our fifth week. When it comes to spiritual maturity in this area, I’m a toddler, but this I know to be true:
- We don’t fast to bend God to our will but to discern His. We’re the ones who need to change. He does not.
- Self-deprivation is not an end in itself. We don’t fast to please God, appease Him, or to chalk up spiritual brownie points. We give up in order to get. More of Him, and less of ourselves.
- We don’t have to totally understand a discipline like fasting in order to practice it. All I know about the computer I’m typing on is that it works.
Mike and I both recently read a book that has supplied terrific practical helps for our Lenten fast: The Daniel Fast, by Susan Gregory. Susan is a popular blogger (http://danielfast.wordpress.com) whose journey into the discipline of fasting was borne out of her own need to hear from God.
“Daniel fasts” are named after the Old Testament prophet Daniel, who asked King Nebuchadnezzar that he and his companions be allowed to forego the feasts of the court in favor of a simple diet of “pulse” (food that originates from seed, including fruit, vegetables, and whole grains), and water. Unlike a normal fast when only water is consumed, a Daniel fast is a partial one, restricting meat, sweets, dairy products, and all leavening agents.
I’ll share more in my next post about our personal journey into an extended Daniel fast, including the food products that have been a welcome discovery.