Fasting is one of those spiritual disciplines that can so easily get lost in a busy life. I know that it never crosses my mind to make myself intentionally weak, confused, and chilled when I have lots of deadlines. However, a few weeks ago in discipleship group, we were talking about the spiritual disciplines and I realized I have been lax in fasting over the past year. I put it on a mental checklist, but didn't make any serious plans. Then I watched a friend fast through a very stressful and busy time and I saw the grace upon her life to honor God in this way--and I realized I was being a lazy wimp about my deadlines. God's grace is more than sufficient for fasting in these seasons!
So I decided this week to set aside a day to fast and pray. As I did that, the prayer needs really began to flood in. My initial reason for fasting was simply to discipline my flesh. Then one of the women in my caregroup sent out an email request, asking us to fast and pray for another woman in our caregroup who is going through a significant health trial. Our group's concerted prayer and fasting on her behalf is not only an example of caring for her in this difficult time, it is also a way of building our fellowship within the group.
Then I received more serious health news from one family member and then two more friends--the kind of news that perplexes even the doctors and drives you to your knees in prayer.
Finally, I received a note from a ministry friend based in India who wrote about the severe persecution of Christians in the Indian state of Orissa. There are signs that this conflict could spread to other parts of India, even in this coming week.
It was becoming obvious that there were many serious issues to pray over. Though my fasting does not force God's hand on anything, it does empower prayer in a particular way. As John Loftness wrote in Disciplines for Life, "Fasting adds muscle to our spiritual warfare. When Jesus sought spiritual power to withstand the devil and accomplish God's purpose, he fasted. The Bible describes countless individuals and even entire nations who gave up their food to change the course of history by fervent intercession."
I don't write about fasting to promote anything about myself or my efforts. In fact, I need to grow in mortifying my flesh and interceding in prayer. I am far from experienced in these matters. I do write, however, to encourage you to also fast and pray for our brothers and sisters in numerous nations around the world who are suffering persecution for the name of Christ. If fasting is a topic that raises a lot of questions, I recommend the chapter on fasting from Disciplines for Life. You can download it for free from the Sovereign Grace web store.