Saturday, February 26, 2011

Do Not Be Overcome! The Power of Spiritual Fasting

I need to make an amendment and a confession. Earlier I said that I like weapon number six. That's not exactly true. I do like the results of this weapon, but I do not like to fast. Nope. Fasting has been a rather neglected part of my spiritual life. The reason?

I really like to eat...potatoes and everything else. I no likey being hungry. It makes me cranky.

Despite this, I do want to fast. I need to fast at times. I guess for me, it all boils down to the most basic truth, and that is I love Jesus. And Jesus, in His very short little sermon in Matthew 6 on fasting, said, "When you fast..." That when sounds an awful lot like He thinks I'm actually going to fast. And when I love someone, I like to meet his expectations, so yeah...I'm working on the fasting thing.

Actually, fasting was the very first weapon I employed to help me out of the pit of woe I was in a year ago. The Lord had already used Holly and Heather's book as a wake-up call for me that I needed some changes in my life. I was now faced with the how.

I woke up the morning of the second anniversary of my dad's death feeling completely and utterly depressed. I was sick of life and sick of myself in it. I had been putting stakes in the ground around me-- one for every bad thing that ever happened to me. I put them there and kept them there to remember them and to prove my point: Life Stinks and it's Not Fair. 

I woke up on this morning feeling surrounded and trapped by all the negativity. I wanted out. I remember actually saying out loud, "I need to do something. Now. Today." And the Lord spoke to me right then, "Fast and pray." And just in case I didn't get that message, He told my friend Jill, too. That very day, she said to me, "I was praying for you today, and I was wondering if you would consider fasting about the things you are struggling with." Yes! Thank you, Lord. I got the message!

And so I entered into a fast of several days with some very specific desires on my heart. I had the dream and the hope of freedom ahead, and that glimmer gave me the strength I needed to say goodbye to potatoes and all my other tasty friends for a time. I love what Jentezen Franklin says in his book, Fasting: "When God has placed a dream inside you that only He can make possible, you need to fast and pray. Good or bad, what's in you will come out only when you fast and pray." Many beautiful things happened to me as a result of this particular fast, but I will just share one of them right now.

If you have been following along since I wrote about my disappointments, then you might remember I have struggled for years with my attitude toward my husband's job. The resentment that I felt had become a way of life for me. I had stated my position from the beginning, and it went something like this: "His job and I are lifelong enemies. We are at war with each other. I know I am not big enough to win, but I will never stop the fight." How could I possibly back down from that? Have you ever found yourself so entrenched in your own foolishness that your stubborn heels have actually dug a rut bigger than you? I couldn't just leave my rut. I needed an out. I needed supernatural help.

During my fast, I humbled myself before God and asked for the help I needed. I was intentionally seeking to be delivered from this bitterness and resentment that had such a strong hold on me. And guess what happened? Bob's job interfered as usual. We were invited to a work-related dinner party, smack dab in the middle of my fast. I was super-duper extra frustrated by that. I felt very committed to this fast, and I did not want to be interrupted. Anyway, this totally proved my point that Bob's work interfered in our personal lives in every way. All the time! I was a little bit seething about it. Plus I was really hungry, which magnified my frustration. This fast was making me even madder at Bob's job! Or so I thought.

I asked the Lord what to do. If the dinner had been a large gathering, I probably could have faked my way through it without eating anything. But there would be only three couples, including Bob and me. Not eating would surely be noticed, and it would be rude to the hostess preparing the food. So, I felt the Lord's blessing to eat this one meal, and then continue on with my fast as planned. 

As we headed for the dinner, I couldn't help but think what a sacrifice I was making for Bob's dumb old job. Admittedly, I was looking forward to the food. I had gone three days without it. I certainly had an appetite. But in my mind, this dinner was tainting my fast and was counter-productive. I was praying for deliverance from bitterness, not the reinforcement of it!

The Lord's ways are different from ours aren't they? I never expected this frustrating night to be the answer to my prayers, but it was. I stopped thinking about myself long enough to remember why we were there. This dinner was an intimate celebration of the passing on of leadership from Bob's boss to Bob. Bob would be leading the office now. This would mean more hours, more personal invasions. But the Lord helped me see what He wanted me to see that night. 

Through the telling of stories around the table, I saw this company, this business, the way they see it: as a dream turned reality, as a life-long career, not just a job, and as a family. I saw that they actually loved each other. Something was happening inside me, and it didn't hurt that I was eating really good potatoes at the same time. 

On the car ride home, I was completely silent, head bowed, as I listened to what the Holy Spirit was saying to me. He told me that this job I hated so much was God's provision for me and my family. It was how we were able to live in the place where we wanted to be. And He told me that I was the problem here. I could continue to set myself against this job, allowing resentment to remain, or I could come in and take part in this blessing. He showed me that it wasn't the job that had caused the bitterness and strife in my life. It was me.

As the tears ran down my face, I knew it was time to fess up to my husband. I needed to say the words out loud. "I'm sorry. I've been so wrong. I am thankful for your job, and I am very proud of you." And those my friend, are powerful words to say to your man. I was out of my rut. 

Sometimes, healings come to us gradually. But, sometimes they are instantaneous. That's what this was for me: an instantaneous deliverance from resentment. I remember feeling like a person who had been miraculously freed from an addiction, never to return to that vice again. The Lord blessed me with the freedom to love and respect my husband independent of the hours he spent at work. You see, those two things had become sickly twisted together. In order to hold to my position that Bob's job was the enemy, I had to demonstrate my disapproval by withholding from him the things he needed most. I withheld my admiration, my approval, my respect, and my affection. I suppose I was on strike. But nobody could really be the winner, except of course Satan, who would have been pleased to destroy our marriage. 

How wonderful to be set free! This thing over me has been broken, and I can say I am the happy wife of the one man I love and respect most in this world. That's a pretty good return for three days of no potatoes. And this is only one example of how fasting has been such a powerful weapon in my life! 

Fasting has always been a sort of mysterious practice to me. I'm not sure why. It's probably completely simple, and I make it more complicated than it really is. At any rate, I've been longing to understand it better, and to do it more often, so in my next post, I will share some of the things I've discovered about fasting through study and experience. Perhaps there are others out there who would like to discover more about this weapon along with me? Until next time... 


  1. I am proud of you and so happy for your victories. :)

  2. @pagereader Thanks, Holly! Check it out--I can respond directly to your comment! Personal, huh? By the who, I will always be thankful for the fasting you did for me!!!!


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