Having learnt the discipline of fasting early on in my Christian life, I count it among the greatest tools/weapons in my possession as a born-again believer. It has brought about many solutions, much needed direction and closeness to God. However, there have been times when I have fasted and I didn’t get what I wanted. At such times, as human nature would have it, I questioned the effectiveness of fasting; forgetting that at previous times it had produced results.
At one time, after a week-long fast had been ‘unfruitful’ I made a decision to no longer fast. I’m sure you can appreciate how gruelling a fast is on the body; and when it looks like it had all been for nothing, it can really be discouraging. So after a couple of months of not fasting I hit a spiritual slump. I realised that the only way I could get out of it was to, you name it, fast.
Coincidentally, or not, I had just a bought a book by Stormie Omartian titled, Lead Me, Holy Spirit. In a chapter where she talks about prayer, she has a section dealing with praying for miracles. As I read that chapter, one statement she made jumped at me. She said that miracles do not occur on demand. They are revealed by God as something He wants to do. After I had read that statement several times, the Holy Spirit impressed upon me that the same goes for fasting.
He told me that when we come to God in fasting and prayer on any issue, what we are essentially doing is inviting God into the situation, to act as He wants to act. We are not inviting Him so that He can do what we want Him to do. That was a mind blowing revelation for me, because I’d always thought that when I fast, God is committed to doing whatever I was asking Him to do. On the first day of a fast I would lay the issue clearly before God and tell Him of my desired outcome. Now that I look back I realise how presumptuous I had been. Embarrassingly so; can you imagine the gall I had, telling God what to do!
It dawned on me that on some occasions I had been trying to manipulate God. I didn’t care about what He thought was best in that instance, and if there were other people involved, I never took it into consideration what they wanted; I just wanted God to do what I wanted Him to do. Also, I was bribing God with my fast. I was essentially telling him; see I’m going without food for these number of days, so you have to give me what I want because I’ve made such a sacrifice!
After the Holy Spirit clarified that for me I understood why it seemed as if I was never getting answers on some of my fasts. What I wanted to happen was simply not God’s best at that time!
This has revolutionised the attitude I have when I enter into a fast. If it’s just my own issues that I’m fasting about, I make sure to try and discern what God’s will could be in that situation, especially when I have an important decision to make. I do tell God what I would like to see happen, but I also tell Him that I want His best for that particular situation and if what I want is not best, then to not let it happen. In essence I’m saying, your will, not mine, be done Lord. That is a very humbling experience.
In cases where other people are involved, I also take into consideration their side of the story and what they want to see happen and go before God for His perfect will. That can be hard to do at times, especially when you’re praying for people who find themselves in immoral, unhealthy, dangerous or compromising situations. At such times I remind myself that I am not God, and everyone has to live their lives the way they see fit, even if I do not agree with the way they’re doing it.
Since I’ve adopted this attitude toward fasting I have seen a significant change in my life. First off, there’s just a peace that I cannot explain, even when I don’t get what I want, because I know that it must not have been God’s best. Second, it has brought me closer to God because I am now after His will (even when I’m not fasting) and I guess nothing delights Him more than that. And lastly, and maybe most importantly, it has rid me of the attitude that saw me trying to twist God’s arm in certain situations, thus straining our relationship when He wouldn’t budge.