I'm entering a long slow fast tomorrow. My flesh hates the idea. Like it really, really, really hates the idea.
But my spirit is growing more and more eager for it, because my faith really does expect to see God. I expect an increased sense of union with him, like seeing God internally. But I also expect to see God externally, through different evidences of his activity.
I expect to see a new responsiveness to the gospel in Sarasota. I expect to see new opportunities to love people with the love of Jesus. And I expect to see people around me experience spiritual breakthrough in ways they never have. Some bondage is stubborn and, like Jesus said, can only be delivered by prayer and fasting. (Mark 9:17-29)
So I'm going in. And I'm asking God to gently and boldly refresh my spirit, even as I deprive my body as an act of discipline and devotion. I want to see Jesus more clearly. I want to know the Holy Spirit's heart and mind with greater strength and conviction. And I want to be filled to overflowing with the bold and gracious love of Christ, even for my enemies. Lord, have mercy and hear my prayer.
I would encourage you to enter this prayer emphasis as well. Here's what I've written elsewhere to explain this fast:
40 DAY FAST: March 21-April 29, 2014
Fasting is an ancient and modern “spiritual discipline.” It’s a practice that many have experienced as helpful in focusing their lives on prayer. To “fast” is to deny yourself something that is generally a good thing, and often a necessary thing. Although in recent times people have learned to apply this discipline to a variety of things, such as TV or social media, the most basic fast is to abstain from eating. This can be from eating food altogether, or from eating certain types of food.
Fasting is an act of devotion to God that is often accompanied by a greater sense of union with him, and clarity in discerning the Spirit’s leading. It is not a “hunger-strike” meant to get God’s attention, or a “diet” meant to break bad habits. It is a prayer emphasis.
When Jesus fasted in the wilderness, he went forty days without food. During that time he successfully resisted the seductions of the devil, and discerned the Spirit’s call on his life. When Daniel fasted, it was from “choice food and wine.” God gave him knowledge and understanding, and the ability to interpret dreams. When the early church fasted and prayed, it was to make key decisions. They sent out missionaries like Paul and Barnabas, and they appointed elders to take care of churches. (See: Matthew 6:5-18, 2 Samuel 12:16-23, Acts 13:2-3, 14:23)
I am asking you to consider joining your pastors and overseers in this 40 Day Fast, along with a number of other church leaders in our region. If you’re unable to go without food for forty days, there is grace for that! Modify it however you need to! What counts is that it is a disciplined act of prayer and devotion. Let it serve as a constant symbolic reminder to ask God for this thing that you want “more than food itself.”
What you pray for is up to you. Let the Spirit of Christ lead you. I would suggest asking for greater personal union with God. I would also invite you to join in praying for revival and a new openness to God’s redemptive work in our church, and in our city.
Hungry for that,