The Big Two
I've been stuck. For years now - like 20 years - I've been bringing two key petitions (I call them The Big Two) before God in prayer, but I've not seen resolution. Which has led me to ask some questions: What are the criteria that govern God's answers to our prayers? Can I trust Him with the desires of my heart, even after all these years? Why have I been asking for so long and yet not received?
When I heard that my church, The Father's House, was having a two-week corporate fasting period, I knew it was time for me to get serious about getting these questions answered. So I decided to join in.
The food (or lack thereof)
I'm not quite ready to completely abstain from food for two weeks, although there are people in my church who are doing that. I decided on what is commonly known as the Daniel Fast: fruits, vegetables, and water only. No coffee, no herbal tea, no dressing on my salad, nothing. Nada. Zilch. Just apples and bananas and spinach and avocado in their raw and natural state, or steamed or boiled, but without butter or sauces or anything of the other accouterments that make vegetables palatable for most people.
Truthfully, I actually love fruits and vegetables. In fact, for all intents and purposes, I am a vegetarian. But I love my butter and dressing, and coffee and teas, and I love snacking on pretzels and nuts and sunflower seeds and little squares of dark chocolate, and now for the next two weeks, all of those are off limits for me. It seemed like a much better idea yesterday. You know, before I had to actually start doing it.
When I got up this morning I made myself a cup of hot water, thinking I could add a little fresh squeezed lemon juice to it and sip on that while having my morning prayer time. I don't think that falls into the "water only" category, but I considered it a technicality. Lemons are fruit, after all. In my imagination, this was a delicious way to start the day, and I would be energized by the idea that I wasn't pumping stimulants into my body first thing in the morning. Well, it was vile. I mostly just held the ceramic mug in my hands to warm me up since it was 3 degrees outside.
I got myself to the gym nonetheless and had a moderate workout. I missed the almond milk in my breakfast smoothie, but it was still pretty good made with water, a handful of spinach, half a banana, and a small scoop of blueberries. I missed my coffee on the way to the gym. I missed my coffee on the way to work. What am I supposed to hold onto without my coffee mug? I have all these fingers available with nothing to do.
And so it begins
It's 8:35 am and I've been up for 4 hours. My flesh is kicking and screaming already. Here are some of the thoughts that have been cropping up this morning:
- Why did I ever think it was a good idea to go on a fast?
- Really? I can't have herbal tea? Why not? Are you sure?
- Don't smile and say nice things to me. You're only making it worse.
- Two weeks is an incredibly long period of time. In fact, I think it may be the longest period of time ever. Two weeks? I don't know how I am going to make it through today.
- What value does this provide anyway? Who cares if I have coffee or eat something besides fruits and vegetables? Does God really care? I mean really? Will He smite me if I have a cup of black coffee?
- How am I going to get through a marketing meeting this morning? Who cares about any of it anyway?
- Maybe I'll catch the flu and then I won't have to stay on this fast.
- How am I supposed to function like this?
- My co-worker called in sick with a stomach bug. I'm jealous. I want to go to her house and use her toothbrush.
- My son is going back home to California this morning. I started crying in a meeting.
- Why am I doing this again? I realize that it can't be because I am hoping to "get something" out of it because that's the wrong motivation, but I am hoping to get something out of it and if I don't hope to get something out of it, what's the point?
I'm not going to be a fasting snob or a purist. I am feeling my way through this thing, knowing that I have to learn as I go. All I have really decided about this fast is to allow it to be a matter between me and God, and to let go of hard and fast rules - which for me, is a bit of a sacrifice in itself since I love my rules and my structure. I get anxious when I don't know what to expect.
I just hope I survive. And I hope I get some answers.