getting to the end
My fast ended up being 13 days long. It was a corporate fast, which means that my whole church was doing it together. I started one day late because I had a family celebration on the first day and thought it best not to unleash the beast at a baby shower.
I thought about going an extra day, just to get the 14th day in, but I tend toward legalism and I'm very strict with rules in general. I mean, if I set the elliptical at the gym for 30 minutes, it takes a fire, earthquake, and a plague of locusts to get me off of there before the timer beeps. So in my case, it is almost more difficult to end a day early, but I felt that finishing up and celebrating on the Sabbath along with everyone else was the right thing to do. A little imperfect, perhaps, but perfect in its own way.
Last night I started taking stock of what this fast has meant for me. I entered into it with two very specific petitions in mind, and with a heart to hear guidance from the Holy Spirit about God's will for my life, in case my prayers were barking up the wrong tree of life. In that sense, praying for clarity about what God wants for me is the most important of prayers because no matter how long and hard I pray for something that is outside of His will for my life, I will just get frustrated. Worse, I could come to the conclusion that He doesn't hear me, or doesn't love me, or doesn't care about the "desires of my heart." From there, it is just a short leap to drawing the conclusion that the promises of the Bible aren't true. And if the Bible isn't true, then what value does faith in God have? It's just a fantasy; a wish. That's an example of how pride can trip me up.
Getting to the "Why"
This is the power of fasting. My will is connected to my flesh. Fasting is about me learning not to fulfill every demand of my ego. I can even want the same things that God wants for me, but I may want them for my own selfish reasons. Success - financial increase, notoriety and all that goes with that, for example - is sanctified when it is dedicated to the glory of God and managed with the purpose to serve and love others. One person can come into a great deal of money and buy boats and houses and cars. Another can come into the same money and invest it in feeding the poor and advancing God's mission in this world. So it stands to reason that the motivation behind the prayer is key. It's important to get to the "why" behind the desire before I can hold God accountable to His promises.
Fasting aligns me with God's will because it subdues my ego. It denies me of the pleasures of the flesh for a short time and when I do that, the power and energy of the Spirit are amplified.
My experience of fasting has been more about how I've changed as a person than it has been about anything that's happened, although some really cool stuff has happened.
The longer I fasted, the more peaceful my spirit grew, and the more I noticed things starting to move in my life. One petition that I hadn't even intentionally brought with me to the fast, but had been praying about for years actually came to completion during this two-week period. Then, I gained the clarity I needed for an important decision about serving in my church that has been on my mind for months. And as I took stock of the events of the past two weeks, I noticed signs that "the Big Two" were moving. I know now that God is bringing those prayers to pass; they have been shaken loose, like a pipe that has been freed up from a clog of gunk.
In a sense, I'm not finished at all; I'm just getting started.
Instead of getting completion for every prayer I held during my fast, I learned how to pray, how to more effectively communicate with God, how to trust, how to surrender. I learned that the most powerful thing I can do is to stop, make time with God a priority, find a way to silence the chatter of my ego, consider all that God has done in my life, and then wait and listen from place of patience, humility, and gratitude.
Amen, baby. Amen.