I am enjoying sharing the journey into fasting. More than anything it is a testament to God’s incredible grace and patience as well as mercy in allowing me to make this journey at all and bumbling around stumble on what are priceless treasures in knowing Christ. The story has gone from that ignorant start to realising why this series is so important, then appreciating the key role of relationships that paved the way to being more aware of some of the outstanding benefits found in the Word of God and this highly underrated spiritual discipline.
Recently I shared on some of the importance of being focussed the hard way through experience. This is part of the reason for this series. It’s one thing to go through the Bible, it’s another thing to experience what the Word explains. So from the time of being aware of the power of fasting it was a case of growing into it slowly but surely.
From 2000-2003 fasting took on a semi-regular part of my life. I have no outstanding memories of fasting sessions, though I do recall that it was important in the run-up to the National Convention that was held in Stoke-on-Trent in 2002. Following the success of that as the Lawrences and Drydens prayed and planned towards confirming the church plant in the city, fasting and praying played a crucial part in the process. (By the way, the Drydens thing, Authrine moved to the area in September/October 2002 and by then we were engaged)
This was good for the corporate scale, but in all of this it did not really affect me greatly on the personal level. That was about to change. It is wonderful to fast corporately and contribute to the bigger picture. Fasting, however, has as much to do with the individual pursuit of developing relationship with God as it does with the corporate pursuit.
In October 2003 the fledgling church group in Stoke-on-Trent agreed to a rota of fasting to coincide with the Muslim month of Ramadan. Although I was used to fasting and praying, it never really stretched over a day. I don’t recall doing 24-hour stretches of going without food and drink. I also had not given any thought to other types of fast such as going without television or heavy meats for a season.
During this month of fasting, though, I took a closer look at fasting and the things that it could entail. I also got immersed in alternate dietary lifestyles and things that could help purge the body of impurities even as fasting can help in that process and we can see it spiritually being a detoxification process. This can be seen by total focus on Christ which allows Him to highlight and cleanse our system of the ways and thoughts that are contrary to Him.
Such was the fascination in the study and the overall interest in the time of fasting that arguably one of the most significant steps in my journey with Christ took place at the end of the month. I quit all non-meat foods. Now when I say I quit it, most people then naturally refer to me as a vegetarian or a vegan. I don’t stop people in that pursuit, but I do not hold such a claim tightly. That is because I don’t get too fastidious about eating milk chocolate, for example, and I’m sure most strict vegans would have an issue with that.
All I know is that at the end of that season of fasting and praying I had a conviction of aspiring to Garden-living that non-meat consumption would be my token offering to God in that wise. I know it was a conviction because I’ve not been in the slightest bit tempted since then to return to eating meat. Now that shift in my whole dietary lifestyle is an act of the spiritual and not natural. I did not force myself into it, it was not something that I needed will-power to maintain, it is almost as if a switch turned off that inclination.
You need to realise that I was an avid consumer of chicken and the meat patties my mother made still cause me to smile in pleasure at the memory, yet for all that I still don’t have yearnings for meat products at all. When loving-kind people waft beef-burgers, kebabs, fried chicken and the like under my nose they do not realise that it has no effect on me. I put that down solely and completely to the work of God and nothing of me, and as I’m intimating that came from a season of fasting and praying and exploring the Word and world of the Word.
Now I’m not suggesting like some kind of super-ad that fasting will radically change your life in this way. What I am saying though is that following Christ can take you places you never considered. An appreciation of the life of fasting is about personally seeking Christ and letting Him change and mould you in the light of that. If it has no personal application and significant impact there, then it is worth asking who’s leading you to fast or if it is just a ritualistic thing. This is not to say I’d get it at the time even after that life-altering event. There would be something however, that would really put a marker on how pivotal fasting is in the life of the believer.
For His Name's Sake