Since I can remember, my life goal has been to be the best to win praise—not my best to honor God and grow closer to him.
In his weekend message, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder introduced us to the history and how-to of our annual 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. I struggled with this for the first five years I attended CedarCreek. I was neither a great prayer warrior nor a fan of giving up stuff to please God.
Thankfully, God has continued to shower me with his grace. Over the past five years, he has grown me in many areas of my life, including a new desire to become a committed, first-time participant in this year’s 21-day focused effort to draw me closer to him. I believe his desire is to further my journey from serving myself to becoming a devoted child of God, whose life is lived for him. The result of which is to make my life choices an example of the hands and feet of Christ in all things.
First step: Discover the purpose of fasting and why it’s important. I am a big fan of intermittent fasting as a way to kill my carb addiction, but I didn’t know what spiritual fasting was or its goal. In his 7 Steps of Fasting & Prayer, author Dr. Bill Bright writes: “Fasting is one of the Spirit’s tools for strengthening and transforming grace in our lives. This spiritual practice is a gift from God meant to grow us and draw us into deepening relationship with Himself.”
7 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. 8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”
Fasting has been a discipline practiced by followers of God since the days of the Old Testament. In Exodus 34:8 we read that Moses fasted while on Mt. Sanai as he waited to receive the ten commandments.
We should prayerfully consider making it a part of our lives. As Ben pointed out, there are things to fast from other than food, for example, videos. When I was suffering from terrible fatigue and brain fog during my recovery from Covid, I discovered puppy, political, and Covid videos, and over time, literally spent up to six hours/day staring at them! I finally acknowledged that was a lot of time spent in self-indulgence and ignoring God, and he graciously gave me the ability to repent and stop.
As Ben encouraged, the annual, 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting is a perfect opportunity for us to refocus our attention away from banal, destructive, daily coping mechanisms and distractions that draw us away from God and lead us into a life of dissatisfaction, fear, exhaustion, and burnout. Instead, use this challenge to move toward a path that is focused on Christ, salvation, and a life of immeasurable blessings for you and those you encounter in your daily walk with God.
Are you fruitful like the trees that grow along deep water streams, or are you barely hanging on?
Would you like to live a life of grace, blessing, and growth in your relationship with the one who loves you most, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?
Pray. Ask the Lord to show you his desire for your life in all things. Ask for guidance as to whether you should fast during 21 Days of Prayer, and if so, what you should give up.
If you have already started the fast, great. And if you haven’t started, it is not too late to jump in.
Check out these resources to gain a better understanding of the how, what, when, and wheres of the process:
- 21 Days of Prayer webpage
- 21 Days of Fasting webpage
- Join our 21 Days text campaign to receive daily prompts and encouragement by texting “21Days” to 419.419.07070.
- Join Ben Snyder on any of our social media platforms for Morning Prayer at 7:00 am.
Heavenly Father, thank you for all you have given me: all the time, resources, relationships, and abilities. I now give them back to you. I surrender it all. I am only a steward—it all belongs to you. God, guide my actions. Help me to listen for and obey your directions. Teach me to trust you and use what you have given me according to your will. May your will be done in me and through me. Amen.
This post was written by Martha Smith, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study. Martha describes herself as a lover of Christ who likes to share faith with others.
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