Spiritual disciplines have always been a massive part of my life. I do not do all of them all the time, but I do most of them all the time. Spiritual disciplines include Church attendance, Bible reading, Prayer, and Fasting. Many Believers participate in the first three but not so much concerning Fasting.
Every year, hundreds, if not thousands of people worldwide participate in the spiritual discipline of Fasting. Fasting is designed to deny yourself and become introspective as you read the Bible and pray. Some think of it as something special, while others think it is weird and outdated. Let’s face it, today, people would say, “Why are you denying yourself? Don’t do that.” However, I recall the generation of my grandparents saying and believing that you move the hand of God when you shove the plate away and pray.
I have participated in Fasting for many years. Each time I would enter that time with the hope that God would show me what He wanted me to do in the new year. This year was no different; I entered the year being excited, focused, and intense about seeking the Lord. I will be the first to admit that I sometimes approach spiritual disciplines expecting God to show up in a loud and active way, but that’s not been His practice with me over the years. This year was no different.
What did happen was something very practical for my life and done in the most subtle and gentle way. God showed me that I need to relax and not be so high-strung. I need to pull back when I feel my anxiety rising, and I need to watch how I work with others so that I do not drive them so hard that they feel fearful or exhausted. I honestly think that is the purpose of Fasting—getting quiet and allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal our areas of deficiencies so that we can be better. These revelations are not designed for us to feel condemnation, guilt, or self-loathing. Instead, revelations help us face who we are and understand our need for Jesus.
My grandparents taught me that Fasting was not public and showy; it is a private matter, a commitment to spend time in God’s presence. I mention Fasting because I think it has become more of a fad or ritual for some, rather than the act of really seeking God’s face. I noticed this year I repeatedly said to others that I was Fasting and immediately felt condemned because I did not want them to think I was boasting. As a result, I found myself evaluating my thoughts and motives. See, self-evaluating is always a good thing. That’s why I love the scriptures. It tells us that God loves us, but He also knows our hearts and tests our anxious thoughts.