For the last few years I have used Mondays to fast and pray. I try to set aside the first part of the day to focus on the Lord, perhaps reading the word, or praying specifically about something that is going on. Some weeks I have done well to stick closely to my plan, and other weeks I have had to miss it all together due to a travel schedule, something that has come up, or sometimes for a pure lack of discipline. Overall it has been pretty consistent though.
There are a lot of things that fasting does for us, but most of my early experiences with fasting were unsuccessful, and certainly unenlightened! A little understanding goes a long way when it comes to things like this, things of a spiritual nature that go against what the body is used to or finds pleasure in.
I recommend to you who are interested, one of the best messages I have been exposed to related to fasting. It is Mike Bickle's message on loving God with all our strength. It speaks about how fasting is an offering of your strength to God. This has really helped me to simplify my thinking and take on some understanding. When we offer our strength to God, by voluntarily entering into weakness (which fasting DEFINITELY accomplishes), we are put in a better position to trade our strength for His. The level of upgrade this is cannot be fully understood in this life, as it is too high for our finite understanding! God's strength, and God Himself, are past finding out, though the part of Him we do see and the (even less) we understand blow us away. Thank you Jesus! Help us to enter more fully into this reality.
If you want to have access to the full message Bickle shared in various formats (including transcription, mp3, or streaming video), click on the photo of Mike. My summary above doesn't do it justice, as you will see.
I recently realized one effect that this discipline is intended to have, and one that I want to be a result of these times of spiritual focus. You guessed it:
This world is not our home.
We are citizen's of a heavenly kingdom, and our citizenship, and our true selves, are seated there. Our spirits are at all times seated in a place where they can gaze upon God Himself. The effect of this world, often, is to distract us away or to pull us out of the awareness of this reality. Nevertheless, it is true. Reinforcing the truth that this world is not our home is an important thing. Our enemy wants to prevent us from this awareness, and to make us believe that we are not citizens of heaven, but rather citizens of earth and the fallen realm of His present influence. Fasting sets aside our natural strength, investing it rather in God as an offering, from Whom we receive transcendant returns on investment.
Fasting can also help open our eyes to the claims this fallen realm attempts to make upon us. We are, make no mistake, if we are in Christ, risen and seated in Him in heavenly places. We are dead, and our lives – our true selves – are hidden (from natural view) with Christ in God. When Christ is revealed from heaven, we will also be revealed with Him. In the mean time, we are growing in our understanding of that which is presently concealed. Help us Lord, to see things as You see them, and to thereby be freed from deception!
I want to encourage you to consider how you might grow this week, or in the weeks ahead, in your awareness of the reality that your true self is in Christ, hidden from this world and this world's view. Fasting would be one way, another may be the meditation of scripture. I suggest Colossians, or perhaps Hebrews 11. We wander, like our forbears in the Lord, in a place that is not our home. We are awaiting a city, whose builder and maker is God, one that has true foundations, and where our citizenship and participation is rooted in the eternal God Himself.