Yesterday I talked about the questions that most of us have about God in those days when our relationship with Him seems to be about as close as two sides of the Grand Canyon. When we find ourselves having drifted from God we tend to feel that our response should be to try to get His attention. The truth is that His eye never leaves us. We have his attention but does he have ours?
I have found that in my life I am a type-A, driven and passionate follower of Christ. I can get so carried away working FOR God that I neglect resting IN Him.
I had a mentor ask me last year “Tally, if you just woke up, relaxed and went to sleep without ‘accomplishing’ something for God, would you feel that you’ve honored Him?” I said “No”. He told me “Tally, that’s a problem. You should be able to rest in God just as much as work in Him.”
I’ve found in my own life that I do not need to get God’s attention, I already have it. The reality is that in my hurried way of living I mess up when I avoid giving him my attention. Fasting is a practice that forces that issue and brings me to a heightened state of awareness for the things of God. Like putting on a pair of glasses that help me see properly, the fuzziness goes away and clarity comes when I fast.
There are numerous books on fasting and this post is not exhaustive. What I will say however is that I used to think “Only spiritual giants fast.” In reality, anyone can fast and anyone can reconnect to God through Christ in this way. Here are a few simple suggestions to help you get your feet wet.
1. Start by fasting from something other than food.
The practice is to simply get you thinking about God more often. I know many people who find that they have time leaches in their life that distract from the things of God. You may want to fast from television or Facebook (gasp!) or maybe your favorite radio stations in favor of bible-on-CD. Whatever you do, just fast.
2. Give yourself attainable goals.
There is nothing like trying to jump that grand canyon when all you have to do is find the bridge. To think you’re going to go from desperatelack of God in your life to being some super spiritual hero overnight… it’s spiritual suicide. Instead of saying “I’ll fast for 40 days.” Maybe you start with 4. Find a time period that will stretch you but not kill you. Each time you fast in the future you can stretch it out.
3. Fast for a purpose.
Why are you fasting? Are you praying for something specific? Do you need clarity? Do you need passion for the things of God? Make sure you know what the point of your fast will be. When you’re frustrated from missing your favorite television show or candy bar, it’s important for you to know WHY you’re fasting. Fasting blind is simply being blind. Don’t do that. Fast with a purpose and ask yourself from the beginning “How will I know that God answered?”
4. Keep it private.
The bible is clear that we shouldn’t gloat about our spiritual practices. The only thing worse than a Christian who’s drifted from God is the Christian who constantly trumpets their own holiness.
5. Let others in.
I hear you now. ”Hey, did you just say to keep it private? You’re an idiot and a hypocrite.” First I will say to you… “Calm down cowboy.” Secondly, bringing in a few people to your fast is for a purpose… to support and encourage you, not to be arrogant in your fast. When you’re first starting out you should grab a spiritual mentor and say “Hey, I’m going to try this. It’s going to be tough. Will you be willing to encourage me along?” Let them know what you’re praying for so they can join you. Let them know what you’re fasting from so they can encourage you and possibly help you out. As you get more comfortable with fasting you may not need a group around you or friends to help you along… but if you’re starting out it’s always a good thing. Last year our church did a ‘Daniel Fast’ and we fasted together. It was both a personal blessing and a community-wide blessing.
So there you have it… there are a few ideas for you to get started. God is good and He will be faithful to answer.
Remember, you don’t need to get God’s attention but rather give Him your attention and I am certain that you will have the fulfilled spiritual life that you’ve always wanted.
Some Books For Further Reading: