“Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” – Psalm 115:1
When I started this juice fast, I purposefully did not decide how long it would be. I wanted to follow God’s lead. After three days, I knew I needed to keep going and planned on at least one week. Day 7 was difficult for me physically, and since I didn’t want to end my fast on a negative note, I pressed on. Today marks Day 10, and I am both thrilled at what God has done and sad at the same time. I don’t want it to end.
Fasting is a unique opportunity to draw close to the Lord; there’s really nothing else like it. During a fast, your appetite for the Lord increases. You become more sensitive to His voice and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. You’re also able to see more clearly what the Lord is doing in your life and in the lives of people around you.
The challenge with fasting, though, is not to make it about yourself. In our hearts, we think we’re seeking the Lord for the right reasons: to intercede for others and pray about our own needs. However, fasting can quickly become a self-centered activity. According to Jeremiah 17:9, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”
In Zechariah 7, the people of Bethel had been holding an annual fast for the past 70 years to remember the destruction of Jerusalem. Because the city was being rebuilt, the Israelites came to the temple to ask if they needed to continual this fast. Following is Zechariah’s reply to the people:
“Then the word of the LORD Almighty came to me: “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?”
After reading that verse, I was immediately convicted about my own fast. As much as I would like to answer, “Yes, Lord!”, I couldn’t. Not every motive on my fast has been pure. I’m human. My heart is deceitful. I have a natural bent toward pride. The truth is, “No, Lord. I’m sorry, but no.”
My desire from day 1 of this fast has been to experience the Lord and grow in my relationship with Him. Even though I have not always honored him with my thoughts and actions over the past 10 days, the good news is that I’m covered by the Lord’s forgiveness and grace. The “success” of this fast in no way depends upon me at all – how long I go, how strict I am, how much I pray – rather, it rests solely on God’s faithfulness.
It’s easy for self-exaltation to creep into anything we attempt for God, including and especially fasting. Before, during, and after a fast, you should continually ask God to examine your heart. Acknowledge that you need Him to cleanse you from all unrighteousness, such as impure motives and prideful thoughts. Confess that you are fasting for Him and not yourself.
The Lord invites us to pursue Him through prayer and fasting. All we have to do is obey. He will take our humble act of obedience, and despite our failures, use it for his glory.
Thank you, God, for your precious Word and how it speaks so directly into our circumstances. Help us to understand how you want us to fast so that we are doing it for you.