Sunday, December 30, 2012

Preparing to Fast

Over the weekend, I began a discussion about a 21 day fast that I will be participating in with my church starting on January 2nd.  You can read about that here.  I was really excited to hear from people who either want to join in or who are actually participating in something similar with their own church!  Truly, friends, doing a fast is so much easier when you have the support of a community who is doing the same thing.  I want to extend this idea to you as something to pray about and consider joining along with me as I fast with my church.  You don't have to be a member of my church.  Anyone can do this.

As I said in the previous post, you can choose to fast from anything that you consider to be a distraction in your walk with the Lord.  Many I know choose to refrain from eating certain foods.  For some, it might be coffee.  For others, it might be a complete lifestyle change as you begin a "Daniel Fast".  Jentezen Franklin does a great job of describing the purpose of a Daniel Fast over on his site.  You can read chapter one of the book of Daniel and discover the historical context behind the fast.  Daniel was one young man chosen for royal service in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar.  The problem was that Daniel refused to defile himself {based on his religious practices} and eat what he was meant to by order of the king.  Daniel, along with Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah {you may know them as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego}, ate a different diet for a period of ten days to prove to the court that they would be far healthier than the rest.  At the end of this period, they proved themselves to be correct.  The diet was simple - vegetables and water.  You can find additional information about a Daniel Fast diet here.

For me, food is an area of my life where I feel I have lost control.  I can probably come up with any number of excuses as to why this is - being exhausted, issues of time, too much going on in my life, and so on.  Maybe you can relate.  We can justify our vices in so many ways that the vice becomes acceptable in our minds.  It just "is".  It's what we do.  But if we stop for a moment and really think about this area of our life, we might begin to recognize that it is an area of struggle and that it might be something that is controlling us instead of us controlling it.  When an area of our life overtakes us, it is not good.  It is not God.  If we are called to live godly lives and follow His ways, how can we do that when something is ruling our lives that isn't of God?  I have heard it said that whatever you place as a priority in your life that is not God is an idol.  Remember, we are not to worship idols!

I chose to begin a Daniel Fast when this time of fasting starts in a few days.  I am not going to lie.  This is going to be hard.  I managed the first year, but last year I really struggled.  Beginning the fast is going to be like quitting food cold turkey {although turkey's not allowed on the fast!}.  My diet right now is not good.  My portion control is out of control.  My vegetable intake is next to nothing {although that's fairly normal for me}.  I rarely drink water.  The food I eat is not the healthiest most of the time.  This will be hard.

I know that the first day might seem like it was really easy, but as the days go on, it's going to be {for me} increasingly difficult.  I didn't know what to expect the first year.  I do have an idea this year.  But I'm anxious because I didn't do so well in the second year that I participated in this fast.  I feel like I failed myself - and even God.  That's a lot of pressure to put on yourself!  I am grateful that God grants us new mercy each day and that it's ok and I'm given an opportunity to try again.

If we are to honor God with our whole selves - including our bodies - then does it not make sense to take steps to try to improve the body that God has given to us?  To cleanse it of the impurities that have built up from days, weeks, months or years of excess is to help to restore our bodies to a healthier state.  When we do this, we might just find that we are better able to serve God in the ways in which He planned for us!

As you prepare to enter into a time of fasting, you should examine yourself and identify an area your life where you need to "cleanse" yourself.  It may not be food.  It is whatever is keeping you from the purpose that God has planned for you.  It is whatever might be keeping you from having the intimate relationship with Him that He desires for you.  What is it that you need to remove in order to regain your focus on Him that will enable you to have a much more meaningful time of prayer and fasting over the coming weeks?

I would love to have you share your thoughts on fasting, feel free to link up below.  If you have any thoughts on the content you'd like to see over the course of the 21 day fast {beginning 1/2/13}, please comment below.  Grab a button for your blog while you're at it!

Daniel Fast 2013


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