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Fasting - a spiritual game-changer

Fasting - a spiritual game-changer

Fasting - a spiritual game-changer

Fasting invites us to engage in our relationship with God in new ways ... if we dare! Photo:Dingzeyu Li.

By Suzanne Niles

What if one singular sacrifice could better your life, your soul forever? What if that sacrifice took just an hour or two or even an entire day? Would you do it? What if this act could sharpen your focus, open your heart and move the hand of God in others and your own life?

Twelve years ago, my friend Wendy and I felt prompted to journey down the road of fasting and prayer together. God whispered in the inner places of our being to draw closer to him in a new way. We didn’t want the status quo anymore. We wanted to engage in the spiritual realm on a deeper level, one we had not yet experienced.

Each week, after Monday night family dinner until Tuesday night before dinner, we’d fast and pray. We were ready for amazing answers to our prayers and nothing short of miracles. What we received was a thorough look into our soul’s condition. It was hard to see what existed in the corners of our minds and the recesses of our hearts. We found thoughts, unforgivingness and resistance to righteousness still alive and well. Wrongs, judgments, critical spirits, excessive self-awareness in danger of becoming narcissistic, fear … almost too much to bear. However, we were not bombarded with this all at once. Our God is very gentle, yet he is truth and truth was what he intended to show us. To condemn us? Never. To redeem and prepare us to come before him with those heartfelt requests we desired to have answers to? Yes, as he worked within us.

When we fasted and prayed, our senses were heightened. We focused on getting alone with God, being still, listening and speaking once we had been spoken to. On occasion we spoke first, but that was to worship and confess anything that had been revealed by our loving Lord. Fasting tuned our ears to hear the voice of God so that he could meticulously take the sin, the past hurts and present trepidations and transform us. As we relinquished our very lives to him, he would work his good and perfect will in us to much greater and richer places found only through him.

It is a practice, ordained by God that has altered our very existence. We have new aspirations, leading and guidance, new eyes to see ourselves and others with. All because God loves us more than we could ever comprehend and planted a seed in our heart to draw closer to him. Fasting and prayer was the tool, fashioned by the hand of God and lived out in the Bible by the faithful so that we could follow in their steps.

We will continue to fast and pray until God takes us home. Why? Once you come this close to God, you don’t retreat.

Let’s talk about five ways our lives change when we fast and pray:

1.    Fasting and prayer can help us hear from God. “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jer. 33:3 NIV). How could you ever resist that appeal? We are invited to call out and be heard by our creator.

2.    Fasting and prayer can reveal our hidden sin. “My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes” (Jer. 16:17). It is hard to acknowledge hidden sin, especially when it involves our motives and attitudes. When we fast and pray, we focus our entirely on God. We become more attuned to hearing truth. Gently, God whispers what we were really thinking at the time of our sin and we’re shocked…momentarily. We did mean harm. This recognition makes us want to hide our face. Our loving Savior lifts our chins to look into his forgiving eyes and we no longer want to hide, but to praise the one who confronted our wrong.

3.    Fasting and prayer can strengthen intimacy with God. “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.  He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zeph. 3:17). As you remain consistent in prayer and fasting you will crave more quiet time alone with Christ. Fasting and prayer is a great catalyst to create an insatiable hunger for God’s presence, helping you enter into deep intimacy with Jesus.

4.    Fasting and prayer can teach us to pray with right motives. “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3). The more you press in with heightened sensitivity through the sacrifice of fasting, your will aligns with God. Wrong motives are replaced with a heart of worship and an outward vision that cares for the needs of others.

5.    Fasting and prayer can build our faith. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:6). As we’ve fasted, God has bolstered our faith by answering incredible requests with many a yes. He has also built our faith by helping us trust when he says no. We have become confident that God knows best. His grace amazes us that he would call us into this sacrificial relationship where we gain infinitely more than we give up. God has changed our lives through prayer and fasting—are you ready for him to change yours?

This article was first published in New Frontier Chronicle.

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