During this Lent season, Ann at Holy Experience has asked us to share about fasting. Her honesty in today's post gives me courage to be honest. The truth is, I am not good at fasting. My failures in this area outweigh my successes. My memories of one forty day fast that I attempted, in which I planned to eat only one meal a day for forty days, are of focusing on what I was going to eat for that one meal, not on prayer, not on Him. Then I decided to try a weekly 24 hour fast for a while-to fast from Friday evening to Saturday evening. Saturday is the day when hubby is tucked away in his office studying, and I am cleaning house. The fasting, in my mind, made what was already not my favorite day of the week, into the dreaded day of the week.
The most successful fast I ever participated in was a 21 day fast from all media...no t.v., no movies, minimal computer time. Instead of watching my favorite Food Network show or such, I shut myself in my home office and there next to my little prayer bench, God and I really communicated. That fast changed me. It broke old habits of just automatically having the television on, of wasting precious hours without even noticing. It quickened in me a craving for peace and quiet and time alone with God.
Ann quoted Isaiah 58 at the end of her post today, and that chapter has also been my reference point for what fasting is and what it isn't, and what our motives and purposes should be in fasting.
First of all, fasting is not to get God to love me more, or to somehow gain His approval, or to earn "brownie points" with Him. God's love for me is perfect and complete. You can't improve on perfect.
Fasting is not to get God to notice me more. God's thoughts towards me are continual. His eyes never leave me, His ears are always tuned to my cries, and His thoughts towards me are more numerous than the grains of sand on the seashores of this world. You can't improve on always.
What fasting does is change me. It is admitting how easily distracted my heart can be from His heart. It is letting Him realign my desires with His desires. It is saying, let me see the truth about You God, and also about the world, the people, around me. It is allowing God to show me how, in my little sphere of influence, to bring His love and justice.
I take comfort in the fact that even in my weakness in this area, God's great heart is ravished with love for me. He sees my weak love, my weak and seemingly barren attempts in fasting and prayer, and delights even in these fumbling glances His direction. He tracks every movement of my heart towards Him...even when those movements are three steps forward, two steps back. As my heart grows more confident in His love and His good intentions towards me, fasting and prayer becomes less legalism, and more relational. I begin to see it as more of a drawing towards Him and His heart, and less as an act of denial of self. And so, I try again.