Have you ever been burdened for someone you loved so dearly to come to the saving heart knowledge of Jesus? Have you cried out for healing for yourself or someone close to you? Do you have a financial situation that needs a miracle? Are you desperate to find freedom from anger or depression? Does your marriage need a love intervention? And could it be simply that your prayer and spiritual life need an extreme Jesus makeover?
What if you could position yourself in Christ so that not only were you praying with your words, but your whole life was also praying, every minute of every day … you were praying? That is what fasting is: your life praying!
I don’t flippantly ask the previous questions hoping to hit the bull’s-eye of something you might have been through. I’ve stood eye to eye with the mountains and giants I’ve mentioned above. I’m no more than a storyteller hoping to infuse faith and encourage hope, while exalting Jesus for what He has taught me and done in my life through fasting. I hope you find that fasting isn’t just a religious act or merely abstaining from food (that’s called a diet), but that it is the surrendering of your whole self before the Lord.
You may start out believing God for one thing and find He not only speaks to that thing, but also does so much more as you open yourself to hearing His voice speak to your whole heart (every area). There is a root system that goes down deep and, like new life that springs up, it produces fruit and continues to bear fruit through the many seasons of your life.
Shortly after fully surrendering my life to the Lord at age 19, I spent a year at Teen Challenge, a Jesus-centered one-year program for recovering drug addicts, as well as those struggling with other addictions including alcoholism and eating disorders.
It was like fasting my life for a year.
I left the life I knew, my family, my friends, to start all over. I checked in for a heart transplant and came out a new person. I left my hometown and had cut off pretty much all of my friends. I asked the Lord for two, if I could carry them in my heart until they knew Him. One was my very best friend from high school, a girl I introduced to drugs. I spent almost three years praying for her before she asked Jesus in her heart. She asked Him if He was really real, to help her through a terrible break-up and help her start a new life. She had never been in the church, and we would talk every day on the phone as she had new questions about Jesus and the Bible.
In the meantime I had left Teen Challenge, done some inner-city evangelism, and gone on to Christ for the Nations Institute (CFNI), where I was going to school at the time this story took place. I remember praying for her and hearing the Holy Spirit say that she needed to get baptized. My friend could be a little rough around the edges, and I told the Lord I would stand in the gap and fast, but He would have to tell her because I was just plain scared. In my zealousness (being pretty new to fasting myself) I chose to go on a liquid fast for 10 days. I drank water, juice and a pot of coffee a day (coffee is a liquid, right?). I would press in every day, praying for God to speak to her, not really knowing how that would play out. My heart was eager to see God do His business.
On the ninth day of the liquid fast, during our morning chapel time at CFNI, I had sharp pains on my right side. I immediately thought my appendix had burst. Emergency medical technicians rushed me to the hospital in an ambulance. They questioned me about the last time I had eaten, when I told them I had been fasting the young EMT said to me, “It wasn’t Lent or Ramadan last time I checked …” with a smug look on his face while he determined I probably had an eating disorder. After I suffered an hour of excruciating pain, the doctor was able to determine that I was passing a kidney stone, thanks to all the coffee and creamer I had consumed and the lack of food. I wasn’t exactly smart in my fasting, but my heart was fervent before the Lord and He honored my heart.
Later that afternoon I was lying in my bed on some nice strong pain medication, when I received a call from my friend. She stopped by to pick something up from a store, and when she was returning to her car she got distracted by a new store that was recently opened. She went in and the guy who worked there began showing her a new Bible program that looked up any Scripture or topic you wanted to research. He said, “For example, lets look up baptism.” She left with a printout of all Scriptures in the Bible on baptism and read in Mark 16:16a, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” That’s all it took; she had to be baptized! I wished I hadn’t been so out of it on pain medication so I could have reveled in the moment more with her. The next time I went home to San Diego, California, I was able to be a part of baptizing her in the ocean.
It was a pretty big moment in my walk with God … it energized my faith, as I was able to partner with God in His plan for my dear friend.
*Article originally appeared in Destiny in Bloom. Used with permission.