Read: Psalm 51:1-19, John 1:29
Want to know a secret?
I have a killer sweet tooth. All December long, I munched on Christmas sweets that overtook my kitchen counter. Peppermint brownies, peanut butter pie, buck-eyes, divinity, pound cake, homemade sugar cookies...if I saw it, I ate it.
Today, I’m telling myself no.more.sweets. It’s a new year, so it’s time for a new resolution to stay away from the sugar that is just so hard for me to resist. It’s going to be hard, but my body will surely thank me later.
If you are like me, you are probably ready for a clean start in 2016, not just with your sweet tooth but with your soul. To get a fresh start on this new year, we need to prepare ourselves to fight off temptation when it strikes. One of the best tools that God has given us to use with prayer is the commitment to fasting.
I’m sharing the idea of fasting with you at the beginning of this prayer challenge as a tool that you can use to deepen your prayer life. I know it might seem intimidating, but it is something that I strongly encourage you to try. When we fast, we enter into a new spiritual discipline, one where we turn to God with each growl of our stomachs. Fasting forces us to acknowledge Him and this can lead us to a state of adoration. We can recognize our impurities and our need for the One, who remained pure in the flesh - Jesus.
In The Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster says, “More than any other discipline in our pursuit of Christ-like living, fasting reveals the things that controls us.”
Fasting is simply omitting certain foods or drinks from your diet for a specific amount of time. Fasting isn’t a diet with the purpose of losing weight. Instead, fasting is a detox for the heart, sifting away the impurities so what’s left is clean. Throughout Scripture, stories are told of the things that control man and make us unclean. Power. Lust. Greed. As humans, we tend to want to feast instead of being famished. We want what we want, and we've most certainly got to have what everyone else has plus more.
David found himself in this situation. He wanted Uriah’s wife Bathsheba and he stopped at nothing to get what he wanted. David had an affair with Bathsheba and she conceived. After he heard this news, David had Uriah sent to the front line of the war to be killed. Once he died in battle, David brought Bathsheba to his home. But David knew he had acted out of his own desire and what he did was not right with God. Once David realized his mistake, he prays this prayer for forgiveness and cleansing.
David was a man who made a mistake. Can’t we all relate even if our circumstances are different than his? Daily, we deal with our own struggles of the flesh. We want to live pure and clean, but the allure of what we want is so often the force that guides our decisions. But fasting is a gentle rebuke, a way for us to release control so that we might better hear what God wants us to do.
While our stomachs hunger for food, fasting allows our souls to hunger for God.
In her book, Every Bitter Thing is Sweet, Sara Hagerty says, "I let adoration fill the gap between when God wildly meets my hunger and when hunger just feels like an empty cry for help." Our small yet substantial sacrifice of food is a way for us to be purified. And you know what makes fasting so beautiful? Even though we are hungry, God is satisfying our every need.
When we fast and pray with hearts seeking God, revival can happen not only in our personal lives but our community, our nation, and our world.
Choosing a tangerine over a jar of Nutella is a choice, and I turn to God for help over the things that most control me. When the bright citrus flavor bursts on my tongue, I offer up praises of adoration to Jesus, my one, true King.
In today's worksheet, you will learn about three different types of fasts. Your challenge is to pick a fast that fits your goals for this prayer challenge and to schedule a start date to begin. Don't let this challenge scare you! Fasting is an incredible tool to help you in your prayer life if you give it a shot.
Join us on Tuesday, January 12th at 6:00 p.m. for our Undivided Women Launch Party at Covenant United Methodist Church. Invite your friends and learn more about this exciting new ministry for our community!