As the fog lifts
I think I've turned a corner in this crazy journey. The past three days have been marked by confusion and exhaustion and a hair-trigger emotional response, but I feel like I am coming out of the fog a bit.
I have to say that by the end of the first day of this fast, I was certain that I wouldn't even make it through Day 2. I kept wanting someone to talk me out of it, but since you're not supposed to tell anyone that you're fasting, chances of that happening were pretty slim. I tried to blink out, "Make me eat a cracker!" in morse code, but my boss just looked at me quizzically and said, "Are you OK?"
I have been spending more time in prayer over these four days and for the most part I've just been listening. Or crying. Not even sure why.
In my weakest moments, I've thought to myself, "Why am I even doing this? What does God care whether I have something besides water to drink? He's not going to stop loving me over a cup of Tension Tamer tea, especially since it is the fast itself which is making me tense.
Making sense of sacrifice
Then I watched Episode One of the YouTube series, "The Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories," by Dr. Jordan Peterson in which he discusses the Biblical concepts of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. One of the attributes assigned to God the Father is that He responds to sacrifice. Peterson then extracts what it is that constitutes a sacrifice. Sacrifice is the act of surrendering or subjugating a present day desire in order to hopefully affect a desired future outcome.
Really, we are already practicing the art of sacrifice all time. For example, we sacrifice buying something we want so that we can save some money, thereby creating a better future financial outcome. We diet and exercise - both forms of sacrifice - in order to manifest a healthier, more attractive, energetic future self.
Human rules, human tools
Think about how amazing it is that we can do that. If I want to go on vacation, and if I receive a check today for work I've done (in itself a sacrifice of my time so that I can get money in a week or two), and if I take some of that money and decide to put it aside, when the day arrives for my vacation, that money is there waiting for me, in the future. Our ability to do that, to devise and plan and create goals and set tasks to achieve conditions that exist nowhere except in our imaginations, is something that no other creature but humans can consciously do. It's all based on the principle of surrendering our free will in favor of attaining a future desired state. But tell people that their relationship with God and prayer requires surrender and sacrifice, and they bolt for the door, screaming, "Fanatic! Cult!"
Natural things like money and food and time are the tools I use when I have my eyes set on a natural outcome. But now my goals are beyond my natural ability. I've already exhausted all my plans and tasks and schemes. I've worked myself raw trying to achieve The Big Two, and I'm still not seeing the outcomes that I deeply and truly desire. It only makes sense, then, that the tools I must use to achieve outcomes that transcend my natural ability must also be transcendent, supernatural. I must look beyond myself.
God rules with God's tools
Disciplines such as abstinence, prayer, and meditation are just a few of the spiritual tools God gives me to use. By participating in a transcendent reality through the use of supernatural tools, my spiritual senses and abilities are aroused and awakened. When I am in that state, I am able to avail myself of the power of God, who can seize what my arms are simply too short to touch.
That's what fasting with a petition in mind is: It's a present-day sacrifice made using spiritual tools in the hopes of affecting a desired future outcome that is beyond my natural ability. When I fast, I am transcending my natural state and allowing the Holy Spirit the room and the permission to align me more closely with God, which empowers me to bring my prayers into manifestation - in the manner modeled for me, and as a privilege earned for me, by Jesus.
That's how I see it now. Not just mimicking Jesus as His follower, or going along with what my church is doing, but going forward with a deeper understanding about how fasting fits into the form and order that God designed in the universe. Not a mystery, not at all crazy or fanatical. Even before I've seen the full results of this one, these first four days have opened my eyes to the power and the beauty of the fast and I am beginning to recognize it for the great gift and privilege it is.