If you haven’t heard about the practice yet, fasting is the choice to abstain from food and/or drinks for a certain period of time which many traditions use for different reasons. For our church, it is coupled with prayer that will enable us to hear from God. We always do it in the beginning of the year because we believe that while you can pray and fast any time you feel it necessary, a brand new year with new pursuits and challenges is an opportune moment to seek and hear the voice of God above everything else.
I first joined this tradition at church in 2007 and never skipped a year except for the ones when I was pregnant and breastfeeding. There are many types of fast – one meal a day, all liquids and nothing solid, all vegetables and no meat, all water and nothing else, and even social media fast. The point is to rid ourselves off our dependency on the physical that we may shift ourselves to tap the spiritual. In this enlightening read from Pastor Jun Divierte, he recounts how prayer and fasting can lead to not only personal but even national breakthroughs, all of which had huge problems to cry to God out for, but also all of which had the common element of reaching the end of themselves. In seeing this, I suddenly had a strange realisation that we actually don’t need a crisis or to hit rock bottom before we succumb ourselves into a decision to pray and fast.
A Little Background
To give people who are unfamiliar with the culture some background, fasting is usually coupled with requests. We see this in the Bible, as well as history, that some form of crisis usually arises for a people to cry out to God while denying themselves of all the worldly comforts, in faith that as they seek Him, a breakthrough will come. I completely believe this and have had a couple of breakthroughs from the past annual fasts I have gone through myself.
But entering 2018 for me was a different. I had no big requests. I had no dire need. I was not in any crisis. I had but normal things to ask for: good health, provision for all His purposes, fruitfulness in all we do, direction at work and for our family. It definitely wasn’t as big as the prayer of healing from cancer, getting out of debt, breaking through chronic depression. In comparison, my list looked petty. So should I even fast if my list is petty? The answer is: of course!
First of all, nothing is too petty for God to hear. He is the Lord of everything, big and small.
Second of all, small things make up the big things; our health in the mundane things will largely enable us to be strong in times of crisis. God is always preparing us for the big things.
Third, when we are weaning of worldly attachments like food and culture, we inevitably become hungry, and the longer it goes, we become hangry (hungry + angry). And anyone who finds himself or herself in this state just wants to get to the bottom of things. You want to finish a meeting; you don’t want to finish that play; you want to postpone an activity. In your hunger, your eyes gain that laser focus on the right things, and we begin to drop everything we don’t need and everything that will not help us. We drop all unnecessary engagements, like those who know their days are numbered. We become wiser in organising our life when we prompt the crisis in ourselves instead of waiting for them. Above all, we begin to clearly see who holds it all, even in the fairest moments of our life.
In your hanger, you quickly reach the end of yourself. And like what I always say, when you’ve reached the end of yourself, this is where God can begin. (Please don’t misconstrue what I mean; God is always at work, but what this quote means is that we begin to only really see it when we’ve stopped trying to do, fix, manufacture solutions ourselves.)
When you’ve reached the end of yourself, this is where God can begin.
Fourth, and last, even when we have nothing big to ask God for, prayer and fasting helps to remind us that nothing can be accomplished solely by the flesh. When a new year comes, it can be so easy to think our pursuits are achievable merely by our own physical strength. After all, we are recharged from the rest of the holidays, and boosted by the energy that comes with a new year. But in the past 10 years of walking with God, I have come to know that it is only a matter of time before one sees that only God enables them all. That we all live by His mercy, and there is no other way to live in this world but by faith.
To those who prayed and fasted with us in church, I rally all of us together. The fast is done, but the faith continues! Let’s continue to seek Him all throughout the year!
To those who want to know more about this practice, here’s something for you to watch and you can also follow this account for updates about the our mid-year fasting. If you want to join us then, you are welcome.