Fasting doesn’t always have to be food.
Fasting can be whatever has your heart, so that giving it up for a period of time is a sacrifice of love. You don’t have to be in a conversation with me long to hear about what I love. “For surely out of the abundance of the mouth the heart speaks” (Matthew 12:34b, NKJV). And this heart speaks of the love of yummy lattes, the latest fashion trends, great movies and reality TV shows centered around dance and singing.
Several years ago at Gateway Church (my home church) a 40-day fast was called. When I felt the Holy Spirit’s hand on my heart, I knew this time it was going to be a great challenge. For this particular fast, I felt the gift was giving up shopping, TV and coffee, which really breaks down to no shopping for myself at Target (aka home away from home), no going to the mall with my faithful Venti Starbucks cup in hand, and no “American Idol” for 40 days.
We had a rally to kick off the 40-day fast with a celebration of worship as we put the Lord first that year. I was in the middle of worshiping the Lord as He reminded me of all the times I had asked for healing since I had been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, which I had been struggling with since I was 23 years old. It had caused us to walk through a painfully frustrating season of dealing with infertility while our friends around us easily conceived. It took us two years to find a doctor who helped us have our babies with the help of infertility medicine. If ever the pastor or minister would say there was an anointing for healing, I was front and center. The disorder had caused increased weight gain and hormonal imbalances, and the doctors offered no real hope except for treating the symptoms.
The voice of the Lord spoke straight to my heart, “Ask again.”
My heart: “What?”
“Ask again to be healed,” He responded. So I did. I poured my heart out before Him for physical healing. I can’t say I felt anything in that moment or walked away from that night feeling changed, but what I do know is that a sonogram five weeks later showed that a baby was conceived three days after that prayer meeting. The miracle of our naturally conceived fourth son followed and forever solidified the fact that we are called to raise husbands. My body miraculously fell into alignment after our baby was born.
I could ask why the healing came then and not before, and why we had to walk out our battle with infertility. But I have resolved in my heart that He is good and His timing is perfect. Who would have thought that fasting from Target, TV, and a good ole cup of joe would result in the blessing we find in raising our littlest Star, Davis?
Which leads me to my last story—one I’m still very emotional about.
While reading the book “The Blood and The Glory” (by Billie Brim), I stopped to mediate on one of the verses in the book and began to pray in the Spirit, desiring for the revelation to go deep. I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me to go back to California and visit my grandma and grandpa. I hadn’t been there in at least four years, and I knew that they were getting up there in years, but the way He spoke to me … my heart knew there was something more. I went to my husband to see if he was in agreement, because he would need to take off work to watch our four children and hold down the fort. He agreed that it was God’s timing. For three days I grieved like one of them had died, and all in the natural was fine. I felt the call to a 21-day fast, and this particular time I felt called to a strict Daniel fast (veggies, fruit, legumes and—the real doozy—no coffee!).
Halfway through the fast I began to realize that this wasn’t just about my grandma, who had been a great spiritual example to me … something was going on with my grandpa. As I began asking God about it, He told me it was the last time I would see him alive. It was kind of hard news, and hard to swallow when everything looked fine. I knew I was going to have to ask my grandpa if he had ever asked Jesus into his heart. He had the fruit of a life change, but he had never confessed to anyone in our family that he had received Jesus. He was the quiet type; he was a loving guy, but his quietness always intimidated me and, just like in the story above, I had simply been too scared to ask before.
So on my trip, after pacing in circles and eating a dozen cookies from the kitchen table, I worked myself up to ask him if we were going to end up in the same place together. I told him I needed to know we were … I told him I needed to know if he had asked Jesus into his heart. He said, “Of course, I’m the one that has to get your grandma to go to church now.” The questioning ended and the answer settled well in my heart. Then, 28 days after returning from that trip I received the phone call that my grandpa had gone to be with Jesus. I just stood there with the phone in my hand in awe of God. Trembling really, my humanness couldn’t absorb it. Fasting had prepared my heart for a truth that was coming, a truth that I didn’t understand.
This fast started with God speaking, and fasting was the physical act of inclining my ear. The story of my grandpa is just a facet (but a pretty big one) of what God did on this fast, but also He strengthened my marriage, and stirred up dreams and vision in my heart for myself and my family in the coming year.
I want to clarify that when I talk about God speaking, I am talking of the prophetic speaking of the Holy Spirit straight to the heart of the issues of life. Fasting has a way of quieting the flesh so we can hear clearly the voice and prophetic wisdom of the Holy Spirit. As we follow His guidance, He allows us to see the truth about ourselves, our situation and others. This kind of profound partnership in praying has rocked my world and yielded the sweetest of rewards.
What are you believing for? Fasting is a great way of inclining your ear to hear what He has in store for you as you dedicate it to Him. He wants to tell you what He desires to do in your heart, your family, your finances, your health … you name it. He desires to be the Lord of your life and guide you in His prophetic wisdom.
If you feel called to a fast there are many kinds … only the one the Lord calls you to is best for you. I am attaching links to some additional references to learn more about them. There are also some great 21-day devotionals out there that, when coupled with prayer, serve as a great encouragement while fasting.
It’s my prayer that these stories have encouraged your faith to hope again, even against great odds, in a God that performs miracles. And One who lets us be a part, not for His sake, but for ours as we see the fruit that comes from a life that prays!
With the Greatest Love!
Links & Resources:
Gateway Church’s 21-day devotional https://letsgo.gatewaypeople.com/
The book FASTING by Jentezen Franklin https://store.jentezenfranklin.org/fc-bkfdv1981
Types of fasts https://www.jentezenfranklin.org/fasting/typesoffasts.php
Scripture References for Fasting:
Matthew 6:16-18, Matthew 9:14-15, Luke 18:9-14
Relation to Prayer and Reading of the Word:
1 Samuel 1:6-8, 17-18, Nehemiah 1:4, Daniel 9:3, 20, Joel 2:12, Luke 2:37, Acts 10:30, Acts 13:2
1 Samuel 7:5-6, Ezra 8:21-23, Nehemiah 9:1-3, Joel 2:15-16, Jonah 3:5-10, Acts 27:33-37
Remember: The Holy Spirit is the perfect prayer partner!
“So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance. And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will. We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. For those whom He foreknew [of whom He was aware and loved beforehand], He also destined from the beginning [foreordaining them] to be molded into the image of His Son [and share inwardly His likeness], that He might become the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:27-29 AMP)
*Article originally appeared in Destiny in Bloom. Used with permission.
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