Today begins a corporate 40-Day Fast for the Vineyard, the denomination to which Tapestry belongs. From Memorial Day to July 5th, we’re choosing to lay aside food, that which physically sustains us, as a way of acknowledging our dependence upon the One who spiritually sustains us. The Vineyard’s national director, Phil Strout, says that the following Bible passage tells what the Lord is calling us into.
This is what the Lord says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is,
and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.”
It takes discipline to fast. I’ve never been able to fast by sheer willpower alone. I need a purpose on which to set my focus. Even then, I find myself running to God, asking Him to carry me through each temptation. And He does.
The best fasting tip I have received came in the middle of a ten-day fast several years ago. The experience of fasting took me to a place of deep closeness with the Lord. Nonetheless, I was exhausted. I felt weak. Even though I found it difficult to navigate my day without several naps, I did not want to break the fast. I kept praying for strength. That prayer yielded nothing. Then, a friend of mine was in town giving a talk. In her talk, she recounted interviewing two women, both in their 90s, both living on their own. She asked them if it was hard to still live independently. They both had the same answer. “Yes it’s hard, but when I feel weak, I pray for joy because, ‘the joy of the Lord is my strength.’” I adopted the prayer for joy as my anthem for the remainder of the fast. God repeatedly brought strength to my body through that prayer.
This time, as I join others in the Vineyard in seeking God, I will partially fast. I tend to forget to eat, anyways, so fasting a meal or two a day won’t feel any different than usual. I want more. As I asked the Lord how He would like me to fast, I sensed that He is inviting me to give Him an hour of my time each day: Go sit with Him. Be still. Listen to His voice. Worship Him. If I’m honest, I’m really nervous about it. An hour is a long time to sit alone with God. It’s going to take planning. It will be an amazing time of silence, though. He will be with me. It will be good.
There are some good tools available for you as you join in on this time of seeking the Lord. Check out the “Fasting Basics booklet,” the 40 Days Participant’s Guide, or grab the 40 Days Take Home Sheet. The Guide and the Take Home Sheet will both Guide your focus. Check them out!