The Republic of Georgia, 7am
I knew this was going to be a long day as my stomach began to growl. The house was quiet, it was snowing outside, and my team was still asleep. We couldn’t leave the house without an escort; I knew that this day was going to be a bit different.
After living overseas for almost five months, my team and I decided to fast for one whole day together, yet I was against it. I had fasted many times before, but I can’t even remember why I did it. I gave up everything to move overseas, I had nothing. What more could I give to the Lord...My time? My heart? My silence?
What’s the point of Fasting?
“To let go of an appetite, to seek God on matters of deep concern for others, myself, and the world.”
The purpose of fasting is never explicitly stated in scripture but its connection to penitence, mourning, and supplication suggests a self-denial that opens one to God.
A fast is the self-denial of normal necessities to intentionally attend to God in prayer and worship. Bringing attachments and cravings to the surface, opens a place for prayer and communication. This physical awareness of emptiness is the reminder to turn to Jesus who alone can satisfy.
I had fasted before but never like this.
‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.
4 Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
and a day acceptable to the Lord? Isaiah 58:3-5
I always thought fasting was about sacrifice. Giving up food isn’t for the Lord to hear you more clearly. Its quite the opposite.
That whole day I spent with the Lord and asked Him. "Break my heart for what breaks yours." I lived in a country founded on brokenness, constantly in war with Russia, miles from an ISIS training camp, hiding in a house owned by the mafia. Let me tell you, my heart did break that day. I went from a heart of exhaustion and selfish sacrifice to a day filled with the word of God. I eliminated earthly desires to spend countless hours with Him just listening. I say this a bit too often but, there are 730 hours in a month. How many of those hours to we spend slowing? How many of those hours do we spend with the Lord? I realized when I was sitting in Georgia in the mafia house, the Lord wanted me to stop. He wants us to sit. "And He said to them. Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." Mark 5:27 I gave my time to the Lord that day and eliminated my physical desires to seek Him
So why am I fasting this week?
Fasting to generate missing compassion in my life. When we understand our responsibility, and acknowledge that our world is ravaged by injustice and suffering. When we finally understand that there are people who are regularly hungry standing right outside our doors, yet we have no empathy or understanding of their suffering and pain. When we identify that sex-trafficking seems like some far-off issue only other countries experience, ignorant of the fact that it is happening every day in our very own city.
It is then, that I believe ,WE should choose to fast in such a way that allows us to enter in to the grief of God. While our perspective might often fault to sacrifice, fasting can be a way to take our eyes from self and turn them back to God.
As we step into fasting remember,
6 “Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?" Isaiah 58:6-8