Words of Worth

Fasting Power

October 23, 2016

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*I wasn’t raised with any knowledge of fasting. My first introduction to the idea was the Lenten season during my first year of college. In those days, Bloomsburg was 80% Catholic. I was raised in a Baptist church and had little knowledge of Catholicism. Ash Wednesday and the smudged foreheads was a shock to me. The idea that my friends were giving up various foods for 40 days was inconceivable. Really, give up food?

As I grew in my faith, I learned that fasting is indeed a Christian practice. Although often tied to Lent, it has a greater purpose than preparation for Easter. Mark Batterson in his book, Draw the Circle, discusses fasting in jointure with praying. Mark suggests that when we fast and pray, we are actually drawing a double circle around our request. He refers to the story in Matthew 17 where the disciples are not able to drive out the demon from a man’s son. Upon the disciple’s failure, the man appeals to Jesus. Christ rebukes the devil, he departs and the child is cured. The disciples question their Master on their inability to heal the child. Jesus answers them and says,

Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.

(Matthew 17:20-21 NASB)

Sometimes our prayers need more commitment. Batterson thinks that fasting is a practice in self-discipline that helps us pray through when our prayer isn’t immediately answered. We all have those kinds of prayers. Ones for which we want immediate answers, but God’s timing is different. We become frustrated and lose heart as we wait for a response. Fasting can give us some power in those prayers–the power to control one aspect of the prayer and the power to stay focused. Although we don’t control the outcome, we do control our own actions. We demonstrate our commitment in our fast. Fasting need not be giving up your favorite food. Batterson shares that he often does a Daniel fast where he only eats fruits and vegetables for 21 days. Some people give up a specific meal during the week. Food fasts can come in different packages; however, they are not the only form of fasting.

In my prayer for my son, Mark’s job, I decided to fast, but I didn’t decide to give up food. I thought that giving up something else would be better to focus my mind on prayer, so I fasted on mindless television viewing. In some ways, I’m a TV junkie. I like to fill the silences in my home with the chatter from TV. Many times I’m not watching the show, just catching sound bits, and I rationalize that the TV provides company. However, it really is just a distraction, filling my head with reruns when I could be focusing my thoughts on God.

I’m now making a conscious effort to do that. I’m filling those silent times in my day with thoughts of Him who created my day. I use that time to circle my prayer concerns for my son and for others. I’m beginning to think that this may not be a fast at all, but the beginning of a good habit.

*Susan Weber, Guest Blogger

Susan Weber is a wife, mom, grandmother, friend, and retired educator after 30 years of teaching grades 9-12 in Neshaminy School District in Langhorne, PA.  Besides travel, Susan fills her days serving on several boards for local community non-profits, including Words of Worth, Hope for Youth, the Neshaminy Education Foundation and Penndel Mental Health Center.  She is also active in her church, Grace Point in PA, teaching and serving on the Missions Team.  Susan and Jim have a great regard for missions and have traveled to four continents on missions’ trips.

 

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