Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Getting the whine out…

“It is in the dying to self which much prayer implies, in closer union to Jesus, that the spirit of faith will come in power. Faith needs prayer for its full growth.

And prayer needs fasting for its full growth… Prayer is the one hand with which we grasp the invisible; fasting, the other, with which we let loose and cast away the visible.” Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer

Many years ago, when I’d just surrendered my life to the Lord, I was involved in a relationship that I knew I needed to leave. Somehow, I just couldn’t. For the first time, I heard about fasting as a spiritual discipline in a new church I was attending and determined to fast two days a week until dinner.

“Lord,” I prayed early one morning as I bowed over the tear stained pages of my Bible. I'd spent so much time the past few months crying in repentance over the words on those pages.  “I want you to know I’m serious. I need your power to break this off.”

 Within a week, the relationship dissolved with very little back lash. I suppose the Lord was allowing me to see just how powerful fasting could be. It was a lasting lesson.

One of the things that happens to me now when I don’t fast is I become whiney. I complain about little things that don’t go my way, and forget to be thankful.

Somehow, fasting cures that. It helps get the whine out, and awakens me to the ways I am blessed. It helps me be less critical and helps me refocus on what is true, right, just, pure, lovely, and of a good report (Philippians 4:8). Fasting helps me keep my eyes on Jesus.

God uses the physical weakness that fasting brings to make me stronger in my faith.

I can look back in my life and see so many times when God used prayer and fasting to make inroads into situations, which had before seemed impossible. And sometimes, the situations don't change, but I'm empowered to live beyond the circumstances

 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from you own flesh and blood?” (Isaiah 58:6-7)

If you’ve never fasted, an excellent resource, and now a classic in Christian literature is Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline.

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