Wednesday, October 24, 2007

On hunger and fasting

I think I've told you that I am a part of a Prayer Initiative Team seeking to promote and encourage intercession for our church and the pastoral search committee during our current transition. As part of our initiative, we have encouraged whosoever would to take one day a month to fast and pray. So far I think only two days this month have been taken, but that's beside the point.

I've chosen this Sunday as my day for prayer and fasting. A couple of days ago I was thinking through my weekend, you know, what to cook and who had to be where at what time, that kind of thing and I remembered my upcoming fast. Almost immediately I began to think of something else I could fast from, something other than food, something that would be sort of an inconvenience, but not too much, something be far easier to fast from than food.

I like food. I like to eat. Even as I am typing now, I just munched on a handful of Cheez-its. Giving up food is hard and makes me grouchy and irritable. More so than usual, that is.

Of course, I realized the folly of my rationalizations even as I was making them, but especially so today as I read the following from When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight for Joy by John Piper.
Fasting is the hungry handmaid of prayer. Like prayer she both reveals and remedies. She reveals the measure of food's mastery over us--or television or computers or whatever we submit to again and again to conceal the weakness of our hunber for God. And she remedies by intensifying the earnestness of our prayer and saying with our whole body what prayer says with the heart: I long to be satisfied in God alone!

In the excerpt below from the same book, Piper is quoting himself from another book, A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer.

Fasting proves the presence, and fans the flame, of that hunger [for the supremacy of God in all things]. It is an intensifier of spiritual desire. It is a faithful enemy of fatal bondage to innocent things. It is the physical exclamation point at the end of the sentence: "This much, O God, I long for you and for the manifestation of your glory in the world!"...

If you don't feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. God did not create you for this. There is an appetite for God. And it can be awakened. I invite you to turn from the dulling effects of food and the dangers of idolatry and to say with some simple fast: "This much, O God, I want you."
Nothing about fasting is easy. No doubt I will experience the temptation to grouchiness as my indwelling sin and flesh nature rise to the surface. Not to mention being hungry. My desire to make it a little easier and a little less sacrificial just shows how unnatural self-denial is. I want to give God some of me, but not so much that it renders me uncomfortable or, perhaps even more indicting, inconvenienced.

This much, O God, I want You. This much, I want You and the manifestation of Your glory in the world, and in this Your church. As I hunger physically, may I be reminded of my yearning to be satisfied in You alone!

4 comments:

  1. Praying your day of fasting will glorify Him and bless your body of Christ in their desires to move forward with Him.
    And yes, my mind and body fights the whole fasting issue... :)

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  2. I am so with you on this. I find myself preparing for a fast and my mind goes wild with ways to make it easier on myself. Then I remember that if it were supposed to be easy there would be no point. So, I am praying that your day of fasting will be a blessing.

    In Christ,
    Lisa

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  3. I, too, have made up excuses as to why cutting other things out of my life for a fast would be easier than food. I was convicted, and I am thankful for it, about what your wrote by Piper. All of these years and I have never heard it put that way before. I am also praying for your day that He will Fill you!

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  4. Oh Lisa, as usual you have lifted me up. I have struggled with a call to fast for some things we are struggling with in our home, but have resisted mostly because of the worlds view that it is over-the-top, and I didn't understand really what was to be gained by it. I feel as if the Holy Spirit was speaking to me through your words so I am extra thankful to you for your faithfulness.

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